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Guy Who Invented the Web Now Has Plan to Fix it

Tim Berners-Lee unveils 'Contract for the Web' for governments, businesses, and citizens
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 25, 2019 12:59 PM CST
English computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, in a 2015 file photo.   (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau, File)

(Newser) – Tim Berners-Lee is the computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web, and he's worried about his baby. On Monday, Berners-Lee unveiled a plan to fix the Internet called the Contract for the Web. It's a set of nine core principles, three each for governments, companies, and citizens, along with dozens of clauses on the particulars, reports CNBC. Among the broad strokes, Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web Foundation (a non-profit he set up) want governments to make the internet available to everyone, companies to respect and protect people's personal data, and citizens to create strong online communities that respect civil discourse. So far, tech giants including Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Google have signed on, and they risk being removed if they fail to abide by the principles.

“I think people’s fear of bad things happening on the internet is becoming, justifiably, greater and greater,” Berners-Lee tells the Guardian. "We could end up with a digital dystopia if we don’t turn things around." And he says change needs to start immediately, not as part of some long-range plan. He elaborates in a New York Times op-ed, noting that the contract calls for governments to publish public data registries. If they're "sharing our data with private companies—or buying data broker lists from them—we have a right to know and take action." He also offers a tangible example of the need for a more diverse tech work force: Why should women have to worry that their jogging routes are being shared on exercise apps? Maybe because the apps were designed by men. As part of the contract, companies would release progress toward such diversity goals. (Sacha Baron Cohen thinks the "Silicon Six" has a lot of work to do.)

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