Berners-Lee calls for regulation to combat 'weaponised' web

Tim Berners-Lee says regulation of the Web may be needed

WWW inventor says the Web is "under threat"

The open letter coincides with a milestone in the web's history: this year marks the first time that more than half the word's population will be online. They also decide what content is and isn't allowed on the web.

The rest of Berners-Lee's letter contends with global inequality of internet access, focusing on those who aren't connected, and those who only nominally are.

With so few platforms ruling over the web, it has made it possible for people to use it to their advantage, according to Berners-Lee.

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He's also anxious about the spread of misinformation, data theft, fake Facebook and Twitter accounts created to stoke social tensions and sway public opinion ahead of political elections. Today there are dominant forces online that stifle competition.

The inventor goes on to say that these so-called gatekeepers buy up innovations and talent in a bid to lock their position on the web.

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Expressing concern over how big internet platforms handle users' data in targeting advertising, Berners-Lee said a balance needed to be found between the interests of companies and online citizens.

"To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate", says Berners-Lee. "If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042".

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.

He says that while the Web's problems are complex and large, they should be thought of as mere coding bugs. The second myth is the idea that it's "too late now" for existing platforms to change their revenue model. "Create a new set of incentives and changes in the code will follow", he wrote. "The companies need to be careful that they're not. advocating things that would prevent government from being able to, under appropriate review, perform the type of functions that we've come to count on", Gates said in an interview with Axios last month.

Ultimately, Berners-Lee wants to turn the web into something that will "reflect our hopes and fulfil our dreams, rather than magnify our fears and deepen our divisions".

You know who could fix the future of the internet? "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 said.

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