Preserving the Internet for Democracy, Freedom


Jemima Kiss of The Guardian recently wrote, "It is nearly 25 years since Sir Tim Berners-Lee wrote his initial proposal for a distributed information system based on hypertext, in March 1989. 'Vague, but exciting,' was how supervisor Mike Sendall greeted the idea, proposed to help connect the work of several thousand atom-smashing scientists, researchers and administrators at Cern – the European home of nuclear research and the large hadron collider. The plan was a non-linear organisation system based on hypertext –quite the hot topic in late 80s computing circles – that would improve on the previous system that let documents be stored and printed. 'A linked system,' wrote Berners-Lee, 'would allow one to browse through concepts, documents, systems and authors, also allowing references between documents to be stored'."


Kiss continues, "Berners-Lee has been careful to credit decades of work by previous engineers who laid the foundations for the web. He has previously spoken out against Facebook and others for business models that rely on capturing information and keeping it in silos, away from the rest of the web, and has been outspoken in condemning government surveillance post the Edward Snowden affair. In the public debate following those revelations, it has been argued that perhaps commercialisation and government control are inevitable for such a critical network at a global scale. Should we just accept that most of the public web, and the internet on which it runs, has reached a level of maturity where ownership and control becomes inevitable? Berners-Lee thinks not, and has argued for the preservation of the web as a democratic tool. 'Bold steps,' he said in response to Snowden, 'are needed to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and association online.' "


Read more here.


Image: Courtesy Flickr/ Silvio Tanaka