Inventor of the World Wide Web's opinion 29 years on

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  1. Warned of power being concentrated with a small number of companies like Facebook, Google, and Twitter
  2. Berners-Lee highlighted risk of inequality unless remaining global population is connected to the internet

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, net neutrality advocate and inventor of the world wide web, wrote in today’s Guardian that technology companies may need a regulator to ease the stoking of social tensions. On the web’s 29th birthday, Berners-Lee warned that since power is concentrated among a small number of companies, it is “possible to weaponise the web at scale”.

He explained that the dominance of a few technology giants – Facebook, Twitter, etc – has allowed conspiracy theories to spread on social media. He also said that without investment the last billion people who have yet to access the internet will not be online until 2042 (Alliance for Affordable Internet).

In 2016, the UN passed a non-binding resolution that disruption of internet access is a human rights violation (The Verge). And at the beginning of this year the UN Broadband Commission launched 2025 targets (ITU), including adopting the Alliance for Affordable Internet’s threshold for affordability target, which says entry-level broadband services should be less than 2 percent of average monthly incomes.

Berners-Lee explained that universal access is still a long way off, with only 19 of the 51 countries analyzed in the alliance’s 2017 Affordability Report having achieved this goal.

Berners-Lee also commented that it was a “myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies” and said it is not too late for media platforms to change. See the full Guardian article here.

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