Sir Tim Berners-Lee reflects on 28 years of the Web

In this post, Sir Tim Berners-Lee reflects on the development of the Web since he first proposed it 28 years ago. Sir Tim expresses concerns about the increased amount of personal data that people surrender to the Web, to the point at which he believes we have lost control over this data. Sir Tim points also to the inherent dangers of the ease with which misinformation can be spread, and to the increased use of the Web by governments to surveil their citizens. Sir Tim makes mention of a five-year plan for delivering digital equality, created by his Web Foundation. The goal of this plan is to use the open Web to build a more equal digital world:

Because despite the wave of creativity, innovation and collaboration unleashed by the web, the reality is that today, the web is not for everyone. In fact, the digital revolution is creating new patterns of privilege and discrimination. It is causing job losses and wage polarisation as well as productivity gains; it risks taking away our privacy and autonomy even as it gives ordinary citizens new powers; it is isolating us in filter bubbles as well as connecting us across borders; and it is amplifying voices of fear and hate just as much as voices for tolerance and rationality.

This plan has three foci:

  1. Power: All People Can Make Their Voices Heard Equally
    We will fight to ensure people’s rights on the web are legally protected. This means enshrining in law your right to freedom of expression and privacy online and ensuring that you have control over the collection and use of your personal data.
  2. Accountability: Citizens Hold Governments and Companies to Account
    We will continue to push for policies that open up key information online, and equip public interest groups to use this data to hold governments and companies accountable.
  3. Opportunity: Women and Other Excluded Groups Gain Economic and Social Opportunities and Resources. Digital equality means more inclusive public services and fair opportunities in the digital economy. Examples of policy outcomes we will be pursuing here are affordable broadband for all; expanded and enhanced free public WiFi schemes and digital skills programmes; and increased financial inclusion for women through digital financial services
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