Tim Berners-Lee unveils global plan to save the web

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Inventor of web calls on governments and firms to safeguard it from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has launched a global action plan to save the web from political manipulation, fake news, privacy violations and other malign forces that threaten to plunge the world into a “digital dystopia”.

The Contract for the Web requires endorsing governments, companies and individuals to make concrete commitments to protect the web from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity.

“I think people’s fear of bad things happening on the internet is becoming, justifiably, greater and greater,” Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, told the Guardian. “If we leave the web as it is, there’s a very large number of things that will go wrong. We could end up with a digital dystopia if we don’t turn things around. It’s not that we need a 10-year plan for the web, we need to turn the web around now.”

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The father of the internet wants to save the web from itself

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Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the Internet, sits in front of a 1994 computer displaying his creation.

Twenty-nine years ago, as the architect behind the web’s first browser and server, Tim Berners-Lee built the internet. ”I imagined the web as an open platform that would allow everyone, everywhere to share information, access opportunities, and collaborate across geographic and cultural boundaries,” he wrote in a 2017 open letter. But, he says, he’s become “increasingly worried” about new online trends, like lack of privacy, the spread of misinformation, and lack of transparency in online political advertising. Over the last decade, Berners-Lee’s focus has become saving the internet from itself, and now he’s recruiting companies, governments, and citizens to join his cause.

Berners-Lee’s non-profit the World Wide Web Foundation studies internet accessibility and usage, and details the barriers to a free and open internet, like harassment, privacy infringement, and cost. For instance, a recent study found that over 2 billion people live in places where internet is prohibitively expensive to access. And today, Berners-Lee announced a “Contract for the Web,” which lays out principles for using the internet ethically and transparently for all participants.

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