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How the Father of the Web Plans to Save the Internet

The Father of the Web Plans to Save the Internet

Posted on 11/25/2019 at 01:21 PM

On October 29, 2019, the internet turned 50 years old. The next 50 years are unclear, but one thing is certain: big things are about to happen to the internet.

When Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Facebook, Google, Duck-Duck-Go, and world leaders all unite behind an initiative created by the man who literally invented the world wide web, it’s time to take notice.

Not so very long ago, Global Reach penned an article about Sir Tim Berners-Lee and his team, creators of the first website ever. We shared the history of the world wide web and its intended purpose.

To say that a lot has changed in the nearly 30 years since the first website was launched would be a gross understatement. The mission of The World Wide Web Foundation remains the same as it was when that site launched: the web should be freely available to all and promote the free exchange of communication.

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Berners-Lee originally believed that the good of humanity would come through as we became more connected via the web. He believed that the value of human connection would strengthen communication and relieve the pressures and stress of an (at the time) inefficient and ineffective system.

In his idealistic introduction to the proposal for the world wide web, Berners-Lee concisely explained why he felt an interface like the web was necessary.

“The current incompatibilities of the platforms and tools make it impossible to access existing information through a common interface, leading to waste of time, frustration and obsolete answers to simple data lookup. There is a potential large benefit from the integration of a variety of systems in a way which allows a user to follow links pointing from one piece of information to another one. This forming of a web of information nodes rather than a hierarchical tree or an ordered list is the basic concept behind HyperText.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee, WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project

Times Are Changing

Since the release of that document in November of 1990, the web has grown beyond anything Berners-Lee and his team could have ever imagined, but is it all for the better? You may be surprised to learn that Berners-Lee and the team at the World Wide Web Foundation don’t think so.  

“If you’d asked me 10 years ago, I would have said humanity is going to do a good job with this. If we connect all these people together, they are such wonderful people they will get along. I was wrong.” – Sir Tim Berners-Lee, interview with CNBC.

Berners-Lee believes that the increasing spread of fake news, disinformation, hate speech, data security, and privacy breaches and more threaten the very foundation and future of what the web was designed for.

Other problems Berners-Lee notes include the fact that about half of the global population cannot get online and those who are able to access the internet face threats to privacy, democracy, health, and security.

The Contract for the Web: A Plan of Action

What better person to spearhead an initiative to fight this rising threat to the web than the man who invented it? Berners-Lee has proposed a Contract for the Web in an attempt to save the world… wide web.

The mission is clear: “Halt the misuse of the web and ensure it is protected as a force for good.” -https://contractfortheweb.org

We all have a role to play. The Contract of the Web breaks down principles of responsibilities of the global population of internet users into three distinct groups: Governments, Companies, and Citizens. Taken from the website https://contractfortheweb.org, the plan’s requirements are outlined as follows:

Governments

Ensure everyone can connect to the internet

So that anyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can participate actively online

Keep all of the internet available, all of the time

So that no one is denied their right to full internet access

Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights

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


Companies

Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone

So that no one is excluded from using and shaping the Web

Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust

So people are in control of their lives online, empowered with clear and meaningful choices around their data and privacy

Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst

So the Web really is a public good that puts people first


Citizens

Be creators and collaborators on the Web

So the Web has rich and relevant content for everyone

Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity

So that everyone feels safe and welcome online

Fight for the Web

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


Is This “Global Plan of Action” Worth it?

The leading companies around the world seem to think so. This plan was created through a massive collaboration of minds from over 80 organizations, governments, companies, and citizens. The plan goes beyond talking points of ambitions to provide 76 total clauses with detailed instructions on how members of each sector should do their part. The plan aims to protect the free nature of the web, empowering it as a source for good and a freely available resource to those who need it most.

The Contract for the Web challenges those who would control information by restricting access to it while protecting rights to privacy and security with themes of access and openness, positive technology, and public action.

Who is on Board?

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Microsoft
  • Apple
  • Reporters Without Borders
  • Nord VPN
  • GitHub
  • GiveInternet.org
  • And many more…

Why This Matters

As the internet continues to grow, many people feel that governments and companies have a responsibility to respect consumers’ data privacy. This agreement is the first of its kind, designed to serve as a blueprint to safeguard the web and what it was built for. This unified effort is a way to bring together companies, governments, and the citizens they serve to give internet access to those who don’t have it and protect the rights of those who do.

What’s Next?

If you’re interested in learning more about the Contract for the Web, visit https://contractfortheweb.org/ or offer an endorsement of the Contract for the Web at https://contractfortheweb.org/endorse-the-contract/.

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Categories: Safety and Security

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