Tim Berners-Lee: The dominance of internet giants is a ‘fad’

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Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has said the dominance of internet giants is a “fad” that does not have to endure, adding that urgent change was needed to improve a digital divide in young people’s online access.

Berners-Lee, who invented the internet navigation system known as the World Wide Web in 1989, said he sensed “a feeling out there of restlessness, a feeling that we need to tip things over to change them”.High-profile incidents such as a dispute between Facebook and Australia that led to the social network blocking news feeds in the country has led many citizens and governments to re-examine their relationships with giant internet and social media companies.

“I’m optimistic, because we’ve seen some dominant fads on the internet before … and then things change,” he said in an interview with Reuters, adding that people were pushing back against the use and abuse of personal data.”

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(There’s) great awareness that things need to change.”He said that a combination of government policy and tech could work together and help people regain control over their data and online lives.Berners-Lee, 65, is working on a project called Solid, where people’s personal data is controlled by the user, rather than platforms like Facebook.

But in a letter to coincide with the 32nd birthday of the World Wide Web, he warned of a growing digital divide which he said could threaten the chances of many young people, with one in three people aged between 15-24 globally having no access to the internet at all.

He said recognising the internet as a basic right, akin to how electricity was seen last century, was vital, especially in a world that is increasingly shaped by those with web access.”The only sane thing to think is that … things are going to accelerate (and) continue to accelerate,” he told Reuters. “We’re going through another step-change in the speed at which the world is changing.”

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