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Montevideo, March 26th 2019 - 07:06 UTC

Internet inventor says the web is “plunging downwards to a dysfunctional future”

Tuesday, March 12th 2019 - 08:58 UTC
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Sir Tim Berners-Lee said people had realized how their data could be “manipulated” after the Cambridge Analytica scandal Sir Tim Berners-Lee said people had realized how their data could be “manipulated” after the Cambridge Analytica scandal
However, he said he felt problems such as data breaches, hacking and misinformation could be tackled However, he said he felt problems such as data breaches, hacking and misinformation could be tackled

Global action is required to tackle the web's “downward plunge to a dysfunctional future”, its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has told the BBC. He made the comments in an exclusive interview to mark 30 years since he submitted his proposal for the web. Sir Tim said people had realized how their data could be “manipulated” after the Cambridge Analytica scandal

However, he said he felt problems such as data breaches, hacking and misinformation could be tackled.

In an open letter also published on Monday, the web's creator acknowledged that many people doubted the web could be a force for good.

He had his own anxieties about the web's future, he told the BBC: “I'm very concerned about nastiness and misinformation spreading.”

But he said he felt that people were beginning to better understand the risks they faced as web users.

“When the Cambridge Analytica thing went down [people] realized that elections had been manipulated using data that they contributed.”

He added that in recent years he has increasingly felt that the principles of an open web need to be safeguarded.

In his letter, Sir Tim outlined three specific areas of “dysfunction” that he said were harming the web today: malicious activity such as hacking and harassment; problematic system design such as business models that reward click-bait; unintended consequences, such as aggressive or polarized discussions.

These things could be dealt with, in part, through new laws and systems that limit bad behavior online, he said.

He cited the Contract for the Web project which he helped to launch late last year. But initiatives like this would require all of society to contribute - from members of the public to business and political leaders.

“We need open web champions within government - civil servants and elected officials who will take action when private sector interests threaten the public good and who will stand up to protect the open web,” he wrote.

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