Internet creator urges for more regulation of big tech platforms

Yes you

Yes you

The Web is under threat.

Today, the World Wide Web turns 29. While this is the year we'll pass the tipping point where over half the world's population is online, a big question mark remains on how the second part joins the party - assuming it remains an aspiration worth keeping.

Are we sure the rest of the world wants to connect to the Web we have today?

"I remain committed to making sure the web is a free, open, creative space - for everyone", he wrote this year.

And while he's at it, Berners-Lee urges people to think bigger for the web's future.

This still leaves a gaping "digital divide" that exacerbates existing inequalities: you are more likely to be offline if you are female, poor, or live in a rural area or a low-income country.

But there's another problem that business can't really solve: Closing the digital gap by getting the unconnected onto the internet. "That's an entire generation left behind", he said. Bringing them into the fold will diversify voices on the internet and be, well, a moral thing to do now that the United Nations has decided internet access is a basic human right.

"But until we make internet access affordable for all, billions will continue to be denied this basic right". In the extreme case of Zimbabwe, 1GB data cost 45 percent of the average income.

What will it take to actually achieve this goal?

The Web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today.

These online gatekeepers can lock in their power by acquiring smaller rivals, buying up new innovations and hiring the industry's top talent, making it harder for others to compete, he said. Add to this the competitive advantage that their user data gives them and we can expect the next 20 years to be far less innovative than the last. The root of the problem, he says, is that too much power has been concentrated in the hands of too few online corporations. From trending conspiracy theories all the way up to influencing American politics using hundreds of fake social media accounts, outside actors have been able to maximize their manipulation efforts thanks to a far more centralized internet than we used to have, in Lee's opinion.

The social network, along with Google and Twitter, appeared before Congress to answer questions on the extent of Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election. A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions. To celebrate, its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee penned a letter calling for "strong standards that balance the interests of both companies and online citizens".

"Two myths now limit our collective imagination: the myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it's too late to change the way platforms operate", he wrote.

He says that while the Web's problems are complex and large, they should be thought of as mere coding bugs. Incentives could be the key to motivating new solutions, Lee concluded. However, his vision to create an "open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries" has been challenged as the web has become more centralised.

But, in the first place, to enable full-scale public discussion on these issues, Berners-Lee says it's crucial to make the internet accessible to everyone.

You know who could fix the future of the internet?

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