Friday, 18 January, 2019

Make Internet safe, says inventor

Web pioneer wants new 'contract' for internet Sir Tim Berners-Lee launches 'Magna Carta for the web' to save internet from abuse
Cecil Davis | 07 November, 2018, 21:58

Among those scheduled to speak at the event is Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who earlier this year said users' data from Facebook was used by British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help elect US President Donald Trump - a claim denied by the company. And that ought to change, in Berners-Lee's opinion.

Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the web, launches Contract for the Web that encourages companies to agree to let individuals own and control their data and importantly to allow mobility of data.

"The technology will she kill democracy?", "Building trust in the age of disinformation", "A free and open internet is not possible any more": the disillusionment digital has emerged as a major theme at the Web Summit that opens Monday night in Lisbon.

"All kinds of things have gone wrong" with the internet, says Berners-Lee.

Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyoneSo that no one is excluded from using and shaping the web.

His plan is to create a new "Contract for the Web". "We have fake news, we have problems with privacy, we have problems with abuse of personal data, we have people being profiled in a way that they can be manipulated by clever ads".

Some 70,000 people are expected to take part in the four-day Web Summit, dubbed "the Davos for geeks", including speakers from leading global tech companies, politicians and start-ups hoping to attract attention from the over 1,500 investors who are scheduled to attend.

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The contract aims to ensure that the Web continues to "serve humanity" and calls on governments, citizens and companies to agree to a number of principles and commitments. These include former United Kingdom prime minister Gordon Brown and companies like Facebook and Google.

And people won't just "hoard" their data once they have dominion over it, Berners-Lee said.

One of the early signatories to the contract, Facebook, has been fined by the Information Commissioner's Office for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal; has faced threats from the European Union for taking too long to remove extremist content; and has been sued for allowing advertisers to target housing ads only at white people.

"We must protect ourselves", Tim Berners-Lee noted. Will it be persuasive enough for the Chinese government to be more open? "I can't predict whether that will happen", he said. The contract means a real commitment to dignity, justice and equality from governments, companies and citizens.

Interestingly, big tech such as Facebook, despite signing the contract, have actioned against the contract. "We need a new Contract for the Web, with clear and tough responsibilities for those who have the power to make it better". "We believe it offers an important opportunity to step back and examine the responsibilities we all have to make sure the web delivers on its promise", a spokesperson said.

"If we spend a certain amount of time using the internet we have to spend a little proportion of that time defending it, worrying about it, looking out for it..."