On March 12, 1989, exactly 25 years ago, British computer scientists Sir Tim Berners-Lee distributed a proposal for what would become known as the World Wide Web. Now, on the Web’s 25th anniversary, Berners-Lee asks a very important question: what can we do to make the Web better?
When he first distributed the proposal, his boss allowed him to work on the idea on the side. The Internet has come a long way since then.
“In the following quarter-century, the Web has changed the world in ways that I never could have imagined. There have been many exciting advances,” Berners-Lee noted in a message posted on the webat25.org website.
“It has generated billions of dollars in economic growth, turned data into the gold of the 21st century, unleashed innovation in education and healthcare, whittled away geographic and social boundaries, revolutionised the media, and forced a reinvention of politics in many countries by enabling constant two-way dialogue between the rulers and the ruled.”
Now, he urges all Internet users to support the work of the World Wide Web Foundation and the World Wide Web Consortium. There are a number of challenges that must be addressed.
The inventor of the WWW names a few challenges that he considers important: ensuring that everyone on the planet can access the Web, creating a high-performance open architecture that runs on any device, and setting rules for who has the right to collect and use personal data and for what purposes.
Governments and major corporations have a negative impact on the Internet. In order to protect its openness and neutrality, Tim Berners-Lee believes that a sort of online “Magna Carta” is needed.
“We need a global constitution – a bill of rights,” he told The Guardian.
Berners-Lee has often criticized intelligence agencies like the NSA and Britain’s GCHQ for spying on citizens. He believes that open governments, good democracy, connected communities and cultural diversity can’t exist as long as people have to worry about what’s happening behind the scenes.
The Web We Want campaign hopes to address some of these issues by calling on people from all over the world to stand up for their right to a free, open and truly global Internet.
The first step in this direction is to create an Internet Bill of Rights for every country. The Web We Want initiative aims at developing not only national regulations, but also an international convention to protect the rights of internauts.