Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, should be celebrating the 25th anniversary of his invention this week. Instead, he’s worried about its future as its being continually compromised by intelligence agencies like the NSA. In response to this, he says some new rules are needed.
In an interview with The Guardian, Berners-Lee says the Internet needs its own version of the Magna Carta – a bill of rights to preserve an open Internet. He says rules are needed to protect the Internet from encroaching government and corporate forces that he feels are threatening the web as we know it.
So, how is Berners-Lee and those who share his ideals going to do this? They have started a new organization called “Web We Want.” It says the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights is impossible to uphold today without an open web. Therefore, the organization intends to petition for a global online bill of rights that will uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights while also protecting the Web from government or corporate influence.
Berners-Lee added that an open Internet is essential to not only a working democracy, but for pretty much all of modern society:
“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”
Alongside the calls for a global Internet bill of rights, Berners-Lee also said that the U.S. needs to give up a bit of its control over the Internet. Currently, domain names are managed by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority, a department within ICANN. While it’s a non-profit, the private corporation is still based in America and answers to the U.S. Department of Commerce. He argues that it must break off from the U.S. if the Web is to remain open:
“The removal of the explicit link to the US department of commerce is long overdue. The US can’t have a global place in the running of something which is so non-national. There is huge momentum towards that uncoupling but it is right that we keep a multi-stakeholder approach, and one where governments and companies are both kept at arm’s length.”
While his interview with The Guardian is more focused on ideologies, he also took to the Google Blog today to share another, more celebratory event – Web At 25. It may be far more celebratory in spirit, but Berners-Lee didn’t pass up his chance to call for an open web.
So, as you celebrate the web’s 25th anniversary, just remember – this is for everyone.
Image via Web25/Vimeo