Google, Facebook join web creator Berners-Lee's campaign to defend free internet

Sir Tim Berners Lee

Speaking at the Web Summit technology summit taking place between today and Thursday at the Altice Arena (formerly Meo Arena) and at the Lisbon International Fair (FIL) in Parque das Nações, Tim Berners-Lee said: "We are all responsible for making the web in a better place ".

Berners-Lee, 63, called on governments, companies and citizens to iron out a "complete contract" for the web that will make the internet "safe and accessible" for all by May 2019, the date by which 50 percent of the world will be online for the first time.

"All kinds of things have things have gone wrong", the computer scientist, who in 1989 invented the Web as a platform, said at the opening of the Web Summit, Europe's largest tech event.

However, in his view, they "suggest some concerns", particularly in issues such as privacy and online security, which he pointed out showing images of fake profiles on social networks and manipulation on the internet. And that ought to change, in Berners-Lee's opinion. 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".

Employees of Google, Facebook and other tech giants have in recent months gone public with their regrets, calling the products they helped build harmful to society and overly addictive. The "Contract for the Web" is a set of principles seemingly created to make the internet a better place amid growing concerns emancipating from a wide array of issues from hate speech to political manipulation.

Roya Mahboob, founder of the Afghan Girls Robotics Club, said: "The contract for the web comes at a ideal time for women and girls around the world to speak truth to power, call out injustice and seize new opportunities".

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Already Google and Facebook have signed up for Berners-Lee's "contract for the web".

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.

So people are in control of their lives online.

"Over 1.2 billion internet users live in countries where net neutrality is not protected, and more than 1.5 billion people live in countries with no comprehensive law on personal data protection, leaving them particularly vulnerable to increasingly common incidents involving breaches of personal data". "I think they're engaging at the top levels, and we will judge them according to their actions", Lovett said. With such support, the Contract may just turn out fine. I grew up on the wild web of yore, and I will die on the hill of free, neutral internet if need be.

But at the same time, Berners-Lee's warnings do have weight. A completely free internet also means companies like Facebook can keep selling our data to the likes of Cambridge Analytica, and that Russian trolls can keep posting weak memes on obscure groups (that somehow still sway elections and patterns of vaccination) with impunity. The other reminds us that it can be hijacked by toxic actors looking to get away with (figurative) murder.

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