World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee has warned that the internet’s power for good is being “subverted” by those spreading hatred and threatening democracy, as the technology marked its 50th birthday.
Berners-Lee urged governments, campaign groups and individuals to back a new plan from his foundation to make the internet safe, fair and accessible to all.
The computer scientist spoke out on the 50th anniversary of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) professor Len Kleinrock sending the first message on the Arpanet network of computers, which would eventually become the internet.
Twenty years later, Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web – first proposed as an information management system while he was working for the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) – which led to the mainstream establishment of the technology.
“It’s astonishing to think the internet is already half a century old. But its birthday is not altogether a happy one,” he said.
“The internet – and the World Wide Web it enabled – have changed our lives for the better and have the power to transform millions more in the future. But increasingly we’re seeing that power for good being subverted, whether by scammers, people spreading hatred or vested interests threatening democracy.”
He confirmed that the Web Foundation, the group he founded to campaign for the open web as a public good and basic right, would publish its Contract for the Web next month – a collection of pledges aimed at all areas of society and their commitment to protecting the web in the future.
“A year ago, I called for a new Contract for the Web, bringing together governments, companies and citizen groups to come up with a clear plan of action to protect the web as a force for good,” he said.
“In a month’s time that plan will be ready. This birthday must mark the moment we take on the fight for the web we want.”
The Foundation has not confirmed the date it would publish the contract, but lists some of its principles on its website, which includes a pledge by governments to ensure everyone can connect to the internet and respect people’s fundamental right to privacy.
It also asks individuals to pledge to be creative and collaborative online and build strong communities which respect civil discourse.
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?