Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who inventied the world wide web (Internet), has been concerned for a while about the direction the Internet has been heading in and how it is being used. He recently outlined in the Gurdian how he believed the Internet could be used to it’s ‘true potential’ and not by companies harvesting as much information as they can for free with little benefit to the end user.
He stated that one of the worst trends of the Internet in recent years is corporations using it to harvest vast amounts of information about citizens around the world in return for very little (well, unless you class a personalised advert a benefit so you buy from them!). He feels though, that people have freely given up their information when using services such as Facebook, but he doesn’t believe that they should keep the data hidden away for their own commercial use.
He also stated the fact that Governments are now watching our every move (see the snoopers charter) with mass surveilance. He believes that this is eroding our right to privacy, not something he had in mind when the Internet was first formed. Tim Berners-Lee is worried that the Internet is becoming a place where free speach is no longer ‘free’ and people are not able to voice their opinions or concerns which is hurting democracy.
He also is deeply concerned by another trend – the rise of Fake News (see can you trust the internet anymore?) which is spread rapidly across the web and onto social media platforms.
Whilst not providing a clear plan, he did suggest that one solution to these issues is or web users to work with online companies to ensure we control our own data. Of course if any of you have heard about the forthcoming GDPR coming in May 2018 you might see that changes in laws and regulations are fast approaching. He also believes that companies should be held accountable (such as Facebook and Google) to cull the spread of fake news before it gets out of hand.
Whilst he raises some interesting points, as more of us access the web everyday the Internet becomes an ever bigger beast. Whilst there is a lot to be negative towards (and certainly recent events might sway people’s opinion), the Internet is also a force for good and has revolutionised the way we all communicate. The bottom line, is it’s time we all used our own judgement and how we interpet the news and our use of the Internet. It is still a fantastic piece of modern human engineering.