Tim Berners Lee has sought the help of Google and Facebook to ‘fix’ the web. He has created a contract for the web, which consists of 9 principles for better usage of the internet. A non-profit group has managed to get backed by both Google and Facebook. This group was also set up by Tim Berners. This comes in light due to the concerns over data privacy; hence, the company calls out to all companies and the government to make sure everyone has access to the internet. He stated that the contract has to serve as the blueprint for government, citizens, and the company to make sure that the web is a safe and secure force for good.
According to The Guardian, Tim Berners wants to fix the internet so that we don’t fall into a digital dystopia! This initiative is being backed up by over 150 organizations, which include giants like Microsoft, DuckDuckGo, Facebook, Google, and Electron Frontier Foundation (which is a non-profit group). As of now, Twitter has joined the list of names. Twitter has a history of swaying the information when it comes to providing news about political situations.
Time Berners has even pointed out that the conservatives spread misinformation using sites like Twitter during the election campaigns. He also mentioned that a Tory Twitter account was renamed as factchekcuk. He accused the account of impersonation. The renaming of the account stayed like that during an hour-long debate between Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. They even went ahead and said, “no one will have been fooled by the move”. Tim Berners said that renaming “was an impersonation. Don’t do that. Don’t trust people who do that”. He further elaborated his point by explaining an incident where someone impersonating as a friend was trying to defraud people.
Tim Berners has also called out on Facebook’s subtle manipulations before elections; Political advertisements that can influence the users’ perception and sway them. In fact, he has personally appealed to Mark Zuckerberg to ban these advertisements. He explained further, “it’s not fair to risk democracy by allowing all these very subtle manipulations with targeted ads which promote completely false ideas. They do it just before the election, and then disappear”.
But this is not the only reason why Tim Berners wishes to fix the internet. Tech giants like Google and Facebook have faced tremendous pressure over the collection of user data and the ways they collect this data. The contract created by Berners-Lee has principles that will prevent this too. There is a need for companies to respect people’s privacy and personal data.
This contract created by Tim Berner, includes 72 clauses along with 9 principles. He wants the shared vision for the web to be a roadmap to action. Most importantly, it is the tool that will hold the companies and the government accountable for their actions. His non-profit foundation’s top donors include the US, Swedish, and Canadian governments. Other foundations like the Ford and Omidyar are also donors.
One of the biggest challenges the internet becoming balkanized in countries like China, Russia, and Iran, where they exert high technical control over domestic networks practicing high censorship and surveillance. There has to be a way to stop the governments from imposing such strict restrictions on internet access. This is important for information to flow freely across the internet.
Other governments of countries like Germany, France, and Ghana have signed this contract. The contract wants to ensure the availability of the internet to everyone all the time. This is being emphasized due to the fact of how the Iranian government shut down the internet to stop protests from spreading to all the people.
Tim Berners also feels that even the US doesn’t seem too keen on signing the contract. The Trump administration seeks to overturn the net neutrality rules that were implemented under the presidency of Obama. Net neutrality is basically a principle that beckons internet providers to treat all network traffic equally. Tim also said, “the current administration hasn’t shown any interest in signing up to those kinds of principles”. But since this is the time for elections in both the UK and the US, he urges people to discuss this contract of the web.
Tim Berners created the World Wide Web thirty years ago in a particle physics lab called the CERN. Tim Berners-Lee is worried about how the internet has grown over the years. He says “the forces taking the web in the wrong direction have always been very strong”. He believes that it is crucial for people to be able to hold governments and companies accountable for everything they do.
When asked about how optimistic he is about this contract for the web, he said “if optimism is seeing a place where it could be, which is empowering to individuals and humanity. Yes. I am very optimistic. If optimism is being very confident that we will get there- I’m not”. Tim Berners has been working on this in the last and will work on getting more governments to sign it.