The web's 3 biggest cancers, according to Tim Berners-Lee

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The web's 3 biggest cancers, according to Tim Berners-Lee

The World Wide Web and the internet are wrongly confused as the same thing - something Sir Tim is quick to correct people on.

Yet it's not an entirely happy birthday: Tim Berners-Lee, the British CERN engineer who's 1989 proposal led to the creation of internet browsers and the dot-com revolution, has major concerns about the web's development. "We need to keep it open and free, fighting for net neutrality, and we must think about privacy and owning your own data and how social networks should really control hate speech", Berners-Lee told an audience at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), near Geneva, on Tuesday.

Berners-Lee came up with the idea for hypertext transfer protocol - the "http" that adorns web addresses - and other building blocks for the Web. By late 1990, Berners-Lee had put his first web page on the open internet.

In 1992, Berners-Lee needed a photo to test out the World Wide Web's new image-hosting capabilities.

Back in November, Berners-Lee unveiled the 'Contract for the Web,' which asks governments, companies, and citizens around the world to commit to protecting the freedoms and rights of internet users.

"The openness is wonderful, the connectivity is wonderful, the fact that it was created as a network for academics who are kind of into trusting each other..." she said.

The first, he said, resulted from issues like state-sponsored hacking and criminal behavior; the second from entities like ad-based revenue models "that commercially reward clickbait and the viral spread of misinformation"; and the last produced problems such as "the outraged and polarized tone and quality of online discourse".

Berners-Lee also expressed delight that the web is now the cornerstone for communication and education, giving marginalised groups a voice and making daily lives easier.

This year, outside his regular annual writing, the 63-year-old scientist made an onstage appearance at his old employer, CERN, to reiterate the idea of the "Contract for the Web", a framework to govern the use of the internet he first proposed in November 2018. The objective of showcasing it online is to let people know the origin, as well as, the importance of the web, and also emphasizing that people nowadays are abusing the advantages offered by the tool. It is our journey, he said, from digital adolescence to a more mature, responsible and inclusive future. But 30 years ago the web, as we know it, was just a proposal. "We will have failed the web", he said. He was named one of the 100 most important people of the 20th century by Time magazine.

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