Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee unveils a plan to fix the internet

The power of the web may have been stolen or lost its decentralized authority. Collectively, we gave it away with every signed user agreement and intimate moment shared with this technology. With Facebook, Google and Amazon monopolizing everything we do online. From what we buy to the news we read and who we follow or like. In the background is a handful of government agencies that are able to monitor, spy and manipulate our virtual selves in unimaginable ways.



Timothy Berners-Lee is widely known in this digital age and definitely feels this must change. The original idea of the web was born somewhere in the early 1960s. He landed at different companies as a programmer and released a refined technology, The Web's source code. Now the web today is barely the one he recognizes.

Just last year the creator of the web was talking about a new plan for the world wide web to "fix " the internet. The Contract for the web has been officially launched. It consists of 9 principles for governments, companies, and individuals to comply with in order to prevent us from sliding into a digital dystopia. Google, DuckDuckGo, Facebook and Microsoft have already signed up, as well as 150+ other firms. Notable names to be missing are Apple and Amazon. Companies like Facebook and Google have faced mounting pressure on the amount of data they collect and how they collect them. This is something the contract seeks to prevent. Governments of Germany, France, and Ghana have also signed up for the contract’s founding principles.

What are the principles?

Governments are tasked with ensuring all citizens have access to the internet. In short, every individual must be able to go online without fear of censorship. These are some of the important aspects of the contract. Companies are also called upon to make internet access more affordable. There are countless examples of governments flipping the switch on the internet whenever they feel like it. Iran's government did so, cutting off access for most of its citizens in response to political uprisings among citizens. Egypt's government did the same in response to political uprisings in 2011, as well as Sudan and Ethiopia this summer. Even countries that allow the internet to operate don't guarantee unfettered access. China is blocking its citizens from accessing a lot of popular sites. It looks like it will take more than a contract to prevent such tendencies.

Privacy of users? This is a wake call to companies like Facebook, Google to improve user data and privacy. Governments are also expected to respect and protect the online privacy rights of those who use the web. Governments have not been advocates for the free and open internet that the contract is calling for. The contract also says that there should be controls over how personal data is collected, and also used, which can easily be viewed and adjusted by the user.

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