Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the renowned creator of the world wide web, has warned that the internet has come under the control of large companies and governments.
This has essentially turned it into the “world’s largest surveillance network” according to the person who originally envisioned the idea of the internet as a worldwide information sharing network that’s accessible to all.
The Internet is a Playground for Powerful People with Powerful Interests
In an interview with the New York Times, Sir Tim said that his invention has fallen under the control of powerful interests.
It controls what people see. It creates mechanisms for how people interact. It’s been great, but spying, blocking sites, repurposing people’s content, taking you to the wrong websites completely undermines the spirit of helping people create, The problem is the dominance of one search engine, one big social network, one Twitter for microblogging.
He met with a group of internet activists this past week, which included Vint Cerf, fellow internet pioneer and Brewster Kahle, head of the internet archive, at the Decentralized Web Summit to discuss ways of “re-decentralizing” the internet and give more control to the individuals and to ensure security and privacy for them.
In a recent interview with GeekWire, he added,
We’re on the edge of finding that a company can get to the point where actually it will control everything everybody sees, It will decide which friends’ posts and which news articles a person sees, and we realise that we’re talking about one big corporation suddenly having complete control over somebody’s view of the planet on which they live. It’s a constant battle and we are very close to it all the time.
Where to Draw the Line
Berners-Lee is not alone in this fight against wresting control from big companies like Amazon and Google. He also doesn’t support the governments which use the internet to keep tabs on, or to censor the content which people read, as recently proven by Edward Snowden.
For his part, Sir Tim has promoted the use of privacy-focused alternatives online.
There is a growing industry of privacy-focused sites and apps, like personal information management systems like Meeco and social media site MeWe (of which Berners is a board member). There is also an increasing awareness among people about the importance of privacy as well.
Some have gone a step further with the idea of decentralisation like the Scottish firm “MaidSafe” which is working on an autonomous internet with no central control or servers.
Via The Inquirer