Big tech threatens electronic freedoms, warns Berners-Lee

Internet users see their rights and freedoms threatened by major technology, according to inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee.

With half of the world's global population expected to be online next year, Berners-Lee has launched a global campaign to protect people's rights online and keep the net free. His "Internet contract" will require Internet businesses to respect data security and "support the best in humanity."

Speaking at the opening of the Web Summit conference in Lisbon on Monday, Berners-Lee announced a new charter to deal with abuse, discrimination, political manipulation and centralization of power online in a small number of big tech companies.

Berners-Lee encouraged governments, businesses and individuals to repay a new "internet contract" that would


More than 50 organizations have already expressed their support for the new initiative, including Google and Facebook.

Berners Lee said the world is "at a tipping point" with half of the global population expected to be online by May 201[ads1]9. But he said that the rate of online went slow, which led to a wider digital divide.

"Thousands of us who are online view our rights and liberties threatened," he added and noted a number of threats, including threats to privacy.

Berners-Lee, a computer scientist who invented the network in 1989, said that he created had changed the world for the good and the bad. He said that early in the day, most of the society assumed that the network could only be good, but what we have learned in recent years is not necessarily the case.

Restored Trust

He said he wanted to rebuild trust online while increasing Internet access for those who are not connected.

Opening this year's conference, Webmaster Co-founder and CEO Paddy Cosgrave said the technology was to "turn up and down everything we believed was certain about the world, society, politics and life itself."

  Nearly 70,000 participants from 159 countries is in Lisbon for this year's web summit, including around 1000 Irish people
Nearly 70,000 participants from 159 countries are in Lisbon for this year's Web Summit, including around 1,000 Irish people

Nearly 70,000 participants from 159 countries are in Lisbon for this year's web summit, including around 1,000 Irish people. In total, there are 23 conferences taking place in nine main stages, and it is expected that 1200 speakers, including Twitter founder Evan Williams and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Other speakers include European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, Samsung Electronics President Young Sohn, Stripe Founder John Collison, Microsoft President Brad Smith, Tinder Founder Sean Rad and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The Web Summit begins serious Tuesday morning with speakers including Slack co-founder Cal Henderson. Twitter founder Ev Williams, who is currently leading the online publishing platform Medium, will close the event on Thursday.

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