Twenty-five years to the day since it was created, legendary World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee has spoken out about the current state of privacy and rights on the internet. On the heels of his congratulations to Edward Snowden on his whistleblowing at the SXSW event, Berners-Lee has called for a Bill of Rights for the net.
It was two and a half decades ago when the man who became the Father of the Internet wrote the first proposal for what would become the web today. But where it now stands is much different than what he envisioned.
Once a platform for the people, the internet has now become a launching pad for privacy violating government interference, and big business market dominance. Neither of which he had ever intended.
Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture, he said.
It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.
So, what does he propose? A Bill of Rights for the web. While it might sound odd to create such a set of guidelines, as though the internet were a nation, the need for it has become increasingly clear with the growing revelations in both the governmental and corporate worlds.
We need independence of the Web for democracy, we need independence of the Web to be able to support the press, we need independence of the Web in general. It’s becoming very important to sort out all that, Berners-Lee continued.
An undertaking such as this would not be easy. It is all well and good to say what he need to have, but quite different to actually get it. The internet has become overpowered, like so many other things, by larger influences that hold global power. It will take nothing short of a revolution to change that. Though how such a revolution might look when it related to a digital landscape is hard to say.
In the meantime, we can celebrate the anniversary of a world-changing invention that has set us on a course unlike any humanity ever imagined. Thank you to Tim Berners-Lee, and the many other innovators of the past two decades, who have brought us this far.