When Network member Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, his vision was to create an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries”. In a new interview with The Guardian, he expresses concern about how powerful corporations are controlling the internet and how the ecosystem allows fake news and propaganda to be proliferated. Sir Tim, however, remains optimistic by believing that there is still a chance to turn things around and make the internet open and neutral again.
“When I invented the web, I didn’t have to ask Vint Cerf [the ‘father of the internet’] for permission to use the internet,” said Berners-Lee, who previously stated that the internet should remain a “permissionless space for creativity, innovation and free expression”.
These powerful gatekeepers, Berners-Lee said, control access to the internet and pose a threat to innovation if they are allowed to pick winners and losers by throttling or blocking services. It makes sense, therefore, that ISPs should be treated more like utilities.
“Gas is a utility, so is clean water, and connectivity should be too,” said Berners-Lee. “It’s part of life and shouldn’t have an attitude about what you use it for – just like water.”