Web pioneer wants new contract for internet

Alfred Osborne
November 8, 2018

Internet creator Tim Berners-Lee defended the creation of a "contract" between users, companies and governments around the world to "make the web a better place" in Lisbon, reducing inequalities and improving issues such as privacy.

Berners-Lee highlighted studies showing that half of the world population will be online by next year - but the rate of take-up was slowing considerably, potentially leaving billions cut off from government services, education and public debate. Berners-Lee shared this contract at Web Summit 2018 and the official website, which is live now, is open to digital signatures from individual supporters or those representing an organisation or business. It's already amassed a wealth of supporters, including Google, Facebook, Innovation Award victor and Young Global Leader honoree Mariéme Jamme, Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson, and many more.

One serves as a reminder that the freedom we enjoy on the Internet today will always be in the crosshairs of those who seek power and profit.

But what really got people talking was the first talk from Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the web nearly thirty years ago.

So everyone can use the internet freely, safely and without fear.

The Web Foundation said the majority of people not online live in poor countries and it criticised the fact that "billions of people" access the internet "through a small handful of huge companies". It asks that governments ensure all citizens can connect to the internet, that companies respect consumers' privacy and personal data and that citizens create "rich and relevant content for everyone".

Berners-Lee told the opening of the Europe's largest technology conference that everyone had assumed his breakthrough in 1989, that connected humanity to technology, would lead to good things - and it had for a while.

As such, Berners-Lee, with backing from industry, politicians and governments, has this week launched a new Contract for the Web.

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However, despite these efforts, Berbers-Lee insists that the world needs a "new Contract for the Web, with clear and tough responsibilities for those who have the power to make it better".

So the web remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future.

Among the speakers expected on these themes figure Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who has revealed in the beginning of the year the scandal of Cambridge Analytica, a company for which he worked as a research director, and who is accused of having used for political purposes the personal data of 50 million users of Facebook.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee is very well known.

Interestingly, big tech such as Facebook, despite signing the contract, have actioned against the contract.

"The genie may seem to have come out of the bottle, but the internet has surprised us many times", he added.

"People in the big companies are concerned about truth and democracy".

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