Founder of the World Wide Web (WWW) Foundation, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called on all stakeholders to join the fight in securing the web’s future, saying that the web is under threat.
Sir Bernes-Lee who is also the inventor of the web made the call on March 12, 2018 in celebration of the World Wide Web’s 29th anniversary.
According to the web inventor, “this year’s occasion 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.”
The web inventor disclosed that when sharing his experience he gets concerned reactions from people who want to know how to get the other half of the world connected. He said they also ask if the rest of the world would want to connect to the web we have today.
He highlighted the existing threats to the web ranging from misinformation and questionable political advertising to a loss of control over personal data.
Despite these challenges, Tim Berners-Lee emphasized his commitment towards a free, open and creative web 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” he stated during his call.
Tim Berners-Lee recommended ways of fighting against threats which include closing the digital divide, making the web work for people and bringing more voices to debate on the web’s future.
He described the digital divide between people who have internet access and those who do not as deepening existing inequalities and posing a serious global threat.
“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”.
Tim Berners-Lee pointed out that the UN declaration of internet access as a human right in 2016, puts it on the same level with the provision of clean water, electricity, shelter and food and also the recently adopted Alliance for Affordable Internet’s threshold for affordability of 1GB of mobile data for less than 2% of average monthly income by the UN.
However, he stressed on the need for additional effort to reach the envisaged target, as the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband remains over 20% of average monthly income in some countries.
In addition, Tim Berners-Lee made reference to the way the web has evolved from being a rich selection of blogs and websites to a web that has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms which has had adverse effect on opinion of people as regards what they see and share online.
According to him, the 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.
He suggested a legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives as a way out.
Concluding his remarks, Tim Berners-Lee called for the brightest minds from business, technology, government, civil society, the arts and academia to join forces together to tackle the threats to the web’s future.
He also called on stakeholders to 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.
Furthermore, he urged for investment in securing reliable access for women and girls, and empowering them through digital skills training.
“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.
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,” Berners-Lee said.