To mark the 29th birthday of the World Wide Web, its inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has written an open letter expressing his concerns about the future of the internet. In the year in which we will surpass the point where over half of the world’s population will be online, Berners-Lee is calling for a more inclusive and equal web, which works for all people, rather than just the dominant tech companies.
In the letter published on the Web Foundation’s website, he expresses his concerns about the concentration of power in big tech. Not only does he see it as a curb to online innovation and creativity, but he stresses the real danger of their control over the ideas and opinions we are exposed to on a daily basis. Not shying away from the uglier side of the web, he acknowledges the ability of the dominant platforms to ‘weaponise the web at scale’, and the social and political implications of this that we are becoming all too familiar with.
However, he does offer solutions to these threats on the future of the internet, first by suggesting non-profit ethically minded regulations for the dominant tech platforms. He then ends the letter with a plea for standards which align the interests of both the companies and the public. He asks that people from all areas of society work together to fix the ‘bugs’ which threaten the internet today, so to reinstate the web as a tool for development rather than division. He himself admits that this might seem ‘utopian’, but if he is confident that we can change the web’s future, then maybe we should be too.