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The Internet is turning 30, but it's still going through puberty

The Internet is turning 30, but it's still going through puberty

The privacy of individuals and the democratic freedom of all are under attack. Misinformation spreads rapidly. Hate also has an anonymous and wide-reaching platform. Of course, the Internet has the potential to do so much good, but the majority of current efforts are going in the wrong direction. The World Wide Web's inventor Tim Berners-Lee has therefore called users, legislators and Internet companies to work towards building a better Internet.

For the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee addressed the public. Even if the Internet has already taken mankind a big step forward, it is still has a long way to go. On the one hand, you can enjoy a growing pool of knowledge and news, which is available daily to half the world, mostly free of charge. On the other hand, it can serve as a platform for fraud, hatred and crime.

In view of the visible abuse of the WWW, it was understandable that there are doubts about the good of the Internet. Nevertheless, this is no reason to give up the fight for a better web. He sees the greatest points of attack in these three categories:

  • Deliberate, malicious intent (state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behaviour, and online harassment)
  • False incentives (clickbait content, viral dissemination of false information)
  • Failed moderation (forums that facilitate polarized discussions or create outrage)

In order to tackle the these three problems, he thinks legislators, Internet companies, but also users need to act. This is the only way to combat the problem at the source. In his opinion, we need A Contract for the Web. Similar to the UN Charter on Human Rights or the Space Treaty, this web one should be a supranational agreement. In it, norms, laws and standards for the World Wide Web are to be established. Not only politicians would take part in this. Click here to go to the form.

Berners-Lee thinks these steps need to be taken:

  • States should adapt laws and regulations for the digital age. Innovation and openness are considered important values. Their citizens should know their rights and freedoms on the net. Among other things, these are directed against the threat posed by digital companies to citizens.
  • Companies must not make short-term profits at the expense of human rights, democracy, scientific facts or public safety. Platforms and individual products should be developed with a focus on privacy, diversity and security.
  • Every individual citizen should fight to ensure that legislators and service providers protect and respect their rights. We can no longer vote for politicians who don't care. And we can no longer blindly click on "agree" without protecting our data.

The contract is to be completed by the end of the year. Its inventor hopes that it will mark the beginning of a major rebuilding process of the WWW. This will change our understanding of the web and make it clearer that this is a collaborative project and that we are all a part of it. Only in this way can the Internet can overcome its puberty and  mature into an adult. And this should be characterized by a sense of responsibility and inclusion.

What are your thoughts on the matter? Share them in the comments below.

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