Tim Berners-Lee wants to save the web from abuse

AFP | Web pioneer Berners Lee said'all kinds of things have gone wrong with the internet

AFP | Web pioneer Berners Lee said'all kinds of things have gone wrong with the internet

Channeling Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Berners-Lee said at Lisbon's Web Summit that he sees the rise of fake news, online harassment, and the use of your own personal information against you as the antithesis of what he intended with his creation. Overall, they say the products they've worked on have grown to become addictive and harmful to society.

Since its inception, Sir Tim Berner's Lee has been a proponent of the free and open nature of the web, and has often warned against complacency in protecting it.

"The web is for everybody, and so if the web is for everyone the contract has got to be for everyone", he said.

Among those scheduled to speak at the event is Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who earlier this year said users' data from Facebook was used by British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help elect US President Donald Trump - a claim denied by the company. Berners-Lee confessed he's "increasingly worried" about how the Web is evolving.

What's been interesting recently is the Data Transfer Project, where Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Microsoft all agreed that you can export your data from one and import it into another.

"We have big and small players, it's not the United Nations of the digital world, it's a call for voluntary engagement, for those who want to be part of the solution, whether they're part of the problem or not", the foundation's policy director, Nnenna Nwakanma, told AFP.

Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard University and author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It said: "To me, the most important function of the contract is to remind people that the web we have isn't the only one possible". The year 2019 also marks the Web's 30th anniversary.

With the Internet of Things (IoT) being built upon easy, open access to the internet, the possibility of such traffic being throttled or blocked, and related businesses potentially being held to ransom for greater networking fees, introduces great uncertainty. The contract is based on a set of nine guiding principles, three from each sector - government, business, and people. They're meant to ensure a free and open web for all, but some concerns have been raised as to their currently-vague nature.

Still, there is hope in sight.

For this edition, the third in Lisbon, the organization has already promised "the biggest and the best" ever, with news on the program and space enlargement, with more than 70 thousand participants expected from 170 countries. With such support, the Contract may just turn out fine.

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.

The contract has been seemingly created to rebuild trust in the web and defend a free and open internet by encouraging governments, companies and individuals to work together.

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