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On World Wide Web's 29th Birthday, Its Inventor Warns of Threats to Digital Rights


On World Wide Web's 29th Birthday, Its Inventor Warns of Threats to Digital Rights

Jessica Corbett, staff writer

On the 29th anniversary of the founding of the World Wide Web, British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee—the inventor of the internet as we know it and a long-time advocate of digital rights—penned an open letter to call for stricter regulations of the major tech corporations that aim to control the web.

"This concentration of power creates a new set of gatekeepers, allowing a handful of platforms to control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared."
—Tim Berners-Lee, internet founder


Definitely a good guy to listen to. He is sort of the anti-Zukerberg, anti-Page, anti-Brin, etc. The web didn’t turn out the way he imagined it would when he invented it. You could say it turned into a monster. It does need to be controlled more and some regulation is needed. The EU is leading the way on this. We will have to wait to see how that goes in Europe. The US should follow the EU if their efforts work. Most importantly people should have control of the data collected.


Berners-Lee gave his invention away for free by putting it in the public domain. What has been happening ever since, it is the opposite. But the web’s modus operandi reflects that of the society. It is not easy to change it’s mode of operating (either economic or social or political), unless you change the framework of the society. Yes, Europe has done some good things recently, but it just reflects the culture of their societies. Unfortunately, the web’s power is too much concentrated here.


Actually the problem with the web is too much is given away free including often copyrighted material. The web doesn’t reflect the US society, it reflects hacker mentality. Everything should be be free and no government regulations. Because so much is free the large companies like Google and Facebook make almost all of their income from adverting. The basically control advertising on web. To make fortunes from advertising they have to collect personal data and sell it to advertisers. It is a bad business model. That is the central problem. It undermines privacy and freedom. Another problem is too much reliance on algorithms. They do this to avoid paying large number of workers. But it doesn’t work well. For certain tasks like deciding if a news story is based on facts or simply fabricated humans do a better job.


You do realize you’re first two sentences are complete opposites right?
My understanding is the www was designed for the military, then opened up for public use.
Mr. Burners-Lee is right of coarse, but right now we can’t even field one more vote to overturn net neutrality. The chances of us getting stricter rules for corp. users is just about nil.


Not the www. The internet was developed by the DOD, via the DARPA project i.e. with US public investment. The www was developed by british Berners-Lee in a Swiss research institute, years later. Both him and the Swiss put it on the public domain with intention of making it the property of all humanity.


That is correct. The World Wide Web was originally developed for CERN where Berners-Lee worked.


“hacker mentality?”
A hacker is a creative person who tries to understand how systems work and then fix or improve or replicate on them. And that could be on the web or the real world. Every child who dismantles a toy and then tries to put it back together, is in fact a hacker. You seem to equate a hacker with a person who intentionally penetrates other people’s records without permission, which is what several governmental agencies do.

You don’t seem to have a good grasp of the digital network model and how it conflicts with the old exploitative model of “copyright”. There are a couple of excellent videos on youtube by Aaron Swartz explaining it.


By hackers I mean the type of people who spent endless hours in university computer labs programming. That is where just about all the people who started the big Silicon Valley corporations came from, and a large percentage came from Stanford U. Facebook’s address is Hacker Way. What these hackers want to do is disrupt and as you can easily see they are disrupting almost everything. Newspapers, book publishing, the movie industry, the music industry, taxi service, hotel service, etc. They don’t believe in privacy and they have spread surveillance to a dangerous level. Zuckerberg started out by stealing photos from Harvards server. He got close to getting thrown out of Harvard because of it. That is the bas side of the hacker mentality. Music was pirated by Napster. Google copied virtually every book in print without permission. The way these companies get away putting out copyrighted material for free is a loophole in the law where they are not responsible if they see it and take it down. So what you have is millions of people putting up copyrighted material on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc and the companies eventually take it down but it remains posted for a period of time. They also make the ridiculous claim they are simply platforms and not publishers. But a large percentage of people use Facebook as their primary source of news. How could Facebook not be a publisher?


I stand corrected. Thanks.


So then how did Google get the right to own all the real estate on the web to put ads up? How did they get the right to data mine everyone and to create tracker ads? It’s getting pretty ridiculous most everywhere on the web.


The answer is in my first post to this article. It is the legal (and cultural) framework of the US society that allows them to concentrate massive power. It is a legal framework very friendly to monopoly power. Google and others, are doing to the internet, the same thing that was done to TV, or the society in general.


So basically, in order to ensure a free & open internet, we need stricter regulation?
In order to prevent the web from being controlled by a few powerful entities, we need to put control in the hands of a single, monopolistic, all-powerful agency?