Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, is marking the technology’s 30th anniversary by asking for an end to its misuse.
According to Bloomberg, Berners-Lee explained in a letter that while the technology had created positive opportunities, it had also been abused by “scammers” and “given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crime easier to commit.”
Berners-Lee, who is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation, called on governments, organizations and the public to work together to improve the current system for everyone.
“If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us — we will have failed the web,” he said.
To address the issues plaguing the internet, Berners-Lee outlined what he believes are three areas of dysfunction: “deliberate, malicious intent, such as state-sponsored hacking and attacks, criminal behaviour, and online harassment”; “system design” which has created “perverse incentives where user value is sacrificed, such as ad-based revenue models that commercially reward clickbait”; and the “viral spread of misinformation.”
“While the first category is impossible to eradicate completely, we can create both laws and code to minimize this behavior, just as we have always done offline,” he wrote. “The second category requires us to redesign systems in a way that change incentives. And the final category calls for research to understand existing systems and model possible new ones or tweak those we already have.”
In addition, the Foundation has been working on a Contract for the Web, which will be created to ensure access to the internet is recognized as a human right and used for the public good.
“The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time. Today, half of the world is online. It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity,” he said. “The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.”