GODFATHER OF the three-double-yous, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has warned against creating a 'weaponised' web, laying the responsibility for regulation with the big tech companies.
In a World Wide Web 29th birthday 'state of the union' open letter, he warns that the levels of power wielded by a small group of big names - Google, Facebook, Twitter et al - means that there is a real risk of ideas becoming brandished through concepts like fake news and propaganda spamming.
Berners-Lee points out that these key companies control which "ideas and options are seen and shared" at a key point in history, with the number of people with internet access globally to exceed 50 per cent for the first time in 2018, in line with the UN declaration that using the net is a basic human right.
He points out that these mega-corporations have been left to buy up smaller competitors. The result, he says is that: "What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms,"
He suggests that some sort of regulation or legal framework that takes into account social objectives could at lease ease the issue.
He also points out that we need to get away from the idea that advertising in the only possible business model, branding it a myth. The second myth is the idea that it's ‘too late now' for existing platforms to change their revenue model.
On the subject of the 50 per cent milestone, he warns that we need to concentrate now on the other 50 per cent.
"To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate," he warns. "If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042. That's an entire generation left behind." µ
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