World Large Net at 30: Sir Tim Berners-Lee requires larger safety

The inventor of the World Wide Web has called for better regulation of the online world to ensure it remains a vital resource for everyone.

Speaking to mark the 30th anniversary of the proposal which would eventually spawn the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee said the principle of a free and open web had become harmed in recent years.

He also expressed his worries about the future of the WWW, which he said needs to emerge from its “adolescence”.

“Today, 30 years on from my original proposal for an information management system, half the world is online,” Sir Tim wrote in an open letter on the Web Foundation. “It’s a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also an opportunity to reflect on how far we have yet to go.”

“And while the web has created opportunity, given marginalised groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”

Sir Tim described three “sources of dysfunction” affecting the Web today – cybercrime and harassment, system design issues that reward content such as clickbait, and “unintended negative consequences” of design that has led to negativity spreading online.

However Sir Tim was optimistic about the future of the web, which he said needs to be helped by coming together as, “a global web community”.

Help could also be provided by the Web Foundation, founded by Sir Tim, which is now working with governments, companies and citizens to build a new Contract for the Web, which looks to establish concrete “norms, laws and standards” for the Web.

“…given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can’t be changed for the better in the next 30,” he wrote. 

“If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.”

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