Home | About | Donate

As Web Turns 30, Pioneer Tim Berners-Lee Says 'You Should Have Complete Control of Your Data'

As Web Turns 30, Pioneer Tim Berners-Lee Says 'You Should Have Complete Control of Your Data'

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

"You should have complete control of your data. It's not oil. It's not a commodity," Sir Tim Berners-Lee charged ahead of an event celebrating the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web—his invention that created the internet as we know it.


Once again corporatism holds us back, just like with climate change, and energy policy, and so much more. As with healthcare, the the Europeans are ahead of us on keeping personal data private. It’s not rocket science, we need the will.


Just as Israel, by its own acts, is complicit in the recent rise of anti-Semitism world-wide, so FaceBook, Amazon and Google are largely responsible for creating the backlash against them. It’s heartening to see this article as well as the one about Sen. Warren’s campaign to rein in big tech firms appearing on the same day.

BDS works for a lot of seemingly-intractable bullies. That’s why it’s the target of so much venom. Until these evil tech genies are stuffed safely back in their little brass bottles, avoidance is the best play.


The evolution of benign intent among corporations and governments is problematic indeed. The many of us who are mostly ruled rather than mostly ruling would do well to impose solutions that are within relatively local control.

Within the implied parameters, cryptography works–not absolutely, not unproblematically, but really quite practically and extensively.

US government agencies–and, to presumably varying extents, other governments and business interests–have back doors placed in hardware and software in most any circumstances in which a digital interface is used. Cars built over something like the last twenty years, likely more, are subject to remote control by wifi. The NSA basically records all transmissions and sells information. The CIA trades information, free passage, and immunities with government and illicit business entities in return for money, favors, ,and political penetration.

Any extent to which any of our data has not been abused, therefore, has to do with the relative disinterest of the rather-difficult-to-define interested parties who make trades and purchases, including interests that we might loosely call “mafia,” thereby implying a larger divide between legal business, illegal business, and government business than actually exists.

In this environment, encryption functions a bit like the lock on your front door or your car door. The point is not that no one can break it. The point is that you can make it more difficult to do so reflexively and routinely.

We ought to be doing this.


Right on Tim Berners-Lee!

i have come to the conclusion in the USA that we need Constitutional amendments defining and protecting our data and our networking rights, such that we cannot sell them or give them away through any “terms of use” agreements.

And forbidding any contracts that cede any Constitutional rights (like the right to sue being lost through supposedly freely entered contracts with corporations that forbid class-actions and require arbitration of any disputes).

We also need to exclude “corporate persons” from Constitutional rights, and clarify that Constitutionally, money is not speech.


Facebook, google, amazon. The world of the 1% for the 1% or less. Their problem is they need us.

1 Like

Thank you for your clarity, detail, and forthrightness. For your wishes to come true, we must strangle the fake-war on terrorism, in addition to dealing with the corporatists.

1 Like