Internet Inventor Warns "Regulate Tech Firms Now Or Risk A Weaponized Web"

The inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee (not Al Gore), has a dire warning over the concentration of power among a few companies on the internet "controlling which ideas are shared."

In an open letter to mark the 29th anniversary of his invention, Berners-Lee calls for powerful "new gatekeepers" - internet platforms and social media companies - to be regulated to prevent the internet from being "weaponized at scale."

Via WebFoundation.org,

The web is under threat. Join us and fight for it.

Today, March 12, is the World Wide Web’s 29th birthday. Here’s a message from our founder and web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee on what we need to ensure that everyone has access to a web worth having.

Today, the World Wide Web turns 29. This year marks a milestone in the web’s history: for the first time, we will cross the tipping point when more than half of the world’s population will be online.

When I share this exciting news with people, I tend to get one of two concerned reactions:

1. How do we get the other half of the world connected?

2. Are we sure the rest of the world wants to connect to the web we have today?

The threats to the web today are real and many, including those that I described in my last letter — from misinformation and questionable political advertising to a loss of control over our personal data. But I remain committed to making sure the web is a free, open, creative space — for everyone.

That vision is only possible if we get everyone online, and make sure the web works for people. I founded the Web Foundation to fight for the web’s future. Here’s where we must focus our efforts:

Close the digital divide

The divide between people who have internet access and those who do not is deepening existing inequalities — inequalities that pose a serious global threat. Unsurprisingly, you’re more likely to be offline if you are female, poor, live in a rural area or a low-income country, or some combination of the above. To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate. If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042. That’s an entire generation left behind.

In 2016, the UN declared internet access a human right, on par with clean water, electricity, shelter and food. But until we make internet access affordable for all, billions will continue to be denied this basic right. The target has been set — the UN recently adopted the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s threshold for affordability: 1 GB of mobile data for less than 2% of average monthly income. The reality, however, is that we’re still a long way off from reaching this target — in some countries, the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband remains over 20% of average monthly income.

What will it take to actually achieve this goal? We must support policies and business models that expand access to the world’s poorest through public access solutions, such as community networks and public WiFi initiatives. We must invest in securing reliable access for women and girls, and empowering them through digital skills training.

Make the web work for people

The web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today. What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms. 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.

These dominant platforms are able to lock in their position by creating barriers for competitors. They acquire startup challengers, buy up new innovations and hire the industry’s top talent. Add to this the competitive advantage that their user data gives them and we can expect the next 20 years to be far less innovative than the last.

What’s more, the fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponise the web at scale. In recent years, we’ve seen conspiracy theories trend on social media platforms, fake Twitter and Facebook accounts stoke social tensions, external actors interfere in elections, and criminals steal troves of personal data.

We’ve looked to the platforms themselves for answers. Companies are aware of the problems and are making efforts to fix them — with each change they make affecting millions of people. The responsibility — and sometimes burden — of making these decisions falls on companies that have been built to maximise profit more than to maximise social good. A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions.

Bring more voices to the debate on the web’s future

The future of the web isn’t just about those of us who are online today, but also those yet to connect. Today’s powerful digital economy calls for strong standards that balance the interests of both companies and online citizens. This means thinking about how we align the incentives of the tech sector with those of users and society at large, and consulting a diverse cross-section of society in the process.

Two myths currently limit our collective imagination: the myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it’s too late to change the way platforms operate. On both points, we need to be a little more creative.

While the problems facing the web are complex and large, I think we should see them as bugs: problems with existing code and software systems that have been created by people — and can be fixed by people. Create a new set of incentives and changes in the code will follow. We can design a web that creates a constructive and supportive environment.

Today, I want to challenge us all to have greater ambitions for the web. I want the web to reflect our hopes and fulfil our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions.

As the late internet activist, John Perry Barlow, once said: “a good way to invent the future is to predict it”. It may sound utopian, it may sound impossible to achieve after the setbacks of the last two years, but I want us to imagine that future and build it.

Let’s assemble the brightest minds from business, technology, government, civil society, the arts and academia to tackle the threats to the web’s future. At the Web Foundation, we are ready to play our part in this mission and build the web we all want. Let’s work together to make it possible.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

* * *

Berners-Lee's comments reminded us of those of George Soros in Davos, as he demanded that the European Union regulate social media because voters’ minds are being controlled and "manipulated".

Soros is claiming the reach of social media firms made them a "public menace" while arguing they had led people to vote against globalist causes, including electing President Trump (all his ramblings about "open societies" aside)...

"They deceive their users by manipulating their attention, targeting them to their own economic interests and (...) depending on their services (...)

The platforms are similar to gambling companies (...) and force people to renounce their freedom (...). ...), to renounce what John Stuart Mill called the freedom of thought "

Comments

NumbersUsa Lost My Shorts Tue, 03/13/2018 - 00:49 Permalink

And who or what are these few: The jew supremacists that run them.

Time to Investigate ‘Israelgate’

If the FBI director wants to uncover foreign meddling in U.S. elections, says Phil Giraldi, he ought to look at Israel, and specifically, NSA-designee Michael Flynn’s call, at Benjamin Netanyahu’s request via Jared Kushner, to Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak on Dec. 22, 2016.

http://americanfreepress.net/time-to-investigate-israelgate/

In reply to by Lost My Shorts

ktown Gen. Ripper Tue, 03/13/2018 - 02:17 Permalink

Its an American running joke pertaining to a comment Gore made about being the father of the internet. Although many don't really know anything about its origin , they do know he wasn't in anyway connected to the internet origins ? He is a fellow at Battelle and is technically factual. Which is reason Mr.Gore laughs along with the meme?

In reply to by Gen. Ripper

Dun_Dulind Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:17 Permalink

It's coming soon.  Twitter and Facebook will be the first into receivership.

The sheer number of Conservative/alt-right content being suspended, de-monetized, or banned has ramped up over the last few weeks.  Even Reddit's algorithms purposely filter popular Conservative content from ever hitting the front pages.

There's a number of historical, military, gun review, medieval arms & armor, conspiracy, and conservative channels on Youtube that have been hit hard over the last many months and this shit needs to stop.

Fucking Libcoms are already on a censorship tear.

atomic balm vulcanraven Tue, 03/13/2018 - 02:09 Permalink

they don't have arguments- they are anti-argument, anti-fact.  they know [feel] that argument is anti-female

 

this is the female trying to block the male from escaping their clutches, panicking that the men might "pull out" and shut off their sustenance

25 years of pacing the floor to arrive at these conclusions

 

original sin = female domination, or (((female))) domination [jewish males being female oriented]

 

 

In reply to by vulcanraven

OCnStiggs Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:22 Permalink

An alternative to Google and UslessTube is in the works. The Progressives are screwing themselves because when the Conservatives leave, they will have an echo chamber of uniform thought. They will have lost any precept of free speech. Then, they will wither and die.

ThePhantom OCnStiggs Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:57 Permalink

use google for 1/90 th of my searches. log into shitbook less than once a month... know twitter is fucking with shit hard. stopped watching cnn for anything even shootings , need to get off amazon for sure. tyranical control is almost unstopable at this point.. watch out bitchez.. the war is about to go live in the consciousness of man.

In reply to by OCnStiggs

JibjeResearch Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:26 Permalink

Yes, we need standard policy for all social media.  If we don't have a standard policy, those social media warlords will dominate and control which perspective is allowed forward/restricted for viewing.

 

navy62802 Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:28 Permalink

The web is already weaponized. This fool should wake up and get with the program. The internet was born of a US DOD project. The governmental entity we know as DARPA (at the time it was called ARPA) developed the internet. Much like TOR, the internet was devised in a series of DOD research facilities for secure and nuclear war-resistant communications. It evolved into something completely different but has always been controlled by the US DOD. ARPAnet became the internet. The original nodes are still there.

TeraByte Mon, 03/12/2018 - 21:45 Permalink

Internet is definitely a good tool, BUT currently hijacked by all kind of zuckerbergs. In the first place you have to tear down Google, because it exercises undue political control over people´s search results by its market share. I don´t like my searches to be filtered by 106 different gender employees also become selected by their skin colour too to guarantee multi-diversity ( let`s celebrate that ) and which mob tries to teach my humble plebness to think politically correct. Where do I start from now, buying an AK-47 or purchasing a car load of convenient nitrogen fertilizers with some diesel of course?

RovingGrokster TeraByte Tue, 03/13/2018 - 09:22 Permalink

Wouldn't it be fun if "Net Neutrality" was turned against those who promoted it?

Companies like Google, even as they amassed their own stores of content, decried the possibility that, say, Netflix could recycle some of its subscribers' money into buying smoother streaming to those same subscribers. They wanted to guarantee their own free ride upon the internet infrastructure assembled by the ISPs, and ensure that nobody got a better quality of service (== everybody equally miserable).

What if we looked at neutrality a different way (and never mind the full socialism of Berners-Lee's ideas). What if we treated, not the ISPs, but the media giants, as public utilities, with a responsibility to serve all comers equally, not to block content or discriminate against customers? What if Gurgle, Faceplate and Tweeter were hoist on their own petard?

 

In reply to by TeraByte

ThePhantom ISEEIT Mon, 03/12/2018 - 22:02 Permalink

what don't you get about just taking the weapons first? ? i mean just yesterday all the Democrats were saying Don was crazy ... but lets just take the guns and due process later.... if he's just gaslighting i'd be really surprised... the boy doesn't have a fucking clue about shit other than his "brand".... but god dam it. if you believed in the right to bear arms where the fuck do come off talking this shit ? not worried your supporters wont' kill you one the spot i suppose? never heard more bullshit in all my life. hope home boy wakes the fuck up. president forever..... look out

In reply to by ISEEIT

I am Groot Mon, 03/12/2018 - 22:12 Permalink

Shut the whole fucking thing off. I would love to see millions of Millennials heads explode all at once. I have stacks of old Playboys in the garage.I'll be fine. Goggle, Shitbook, and Shitter should all be regulated by the government because they are public utilities. Conservatives need to get off their fucking asses before conservatism is banned outright. Or being white or a straight male is banned outright.