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Web inventor urges users to seek ‘complete control’ of data

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World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee on Monday slammed the increasing commodification of personal information and appealed for internet users to strive to maintain “complete control” of their data.

Berners-Lee, credited with creating the web in 1989, is on a mission to save his invention from a range of problems increasingly dominating online life, including misinformation and a lack of data protection.

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“You should have complete control of your data. It’s not oil. It’s not a commodity,” he told a small group of journalists gathered at Europe’s physics lab CERN, where he first came up with the idea for the web 30 years ago.

When it comes to personal data, “you should not be able to sell it for money,” he said, “because it’s a right”.

Berners-Lee, who last year launched a development platform called “Solid” aimed at giving users control of their data, described a frightening future if we do not rise to the challenge of privacy protection.

“There is a possible future you can imagine (in which) your browser keeps track of everything that you buy,” he said.

In this scenario, “your browser actually has more information then Amazon does”, he said, warning against complacency in expecting no harm will come from this loss of control over one’s own data.

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“We shouldn’t assume that the world is going to stay like it is,” he said.

People needed to do more to protect themselves and their data and not to simply expect that governments will look out for their best interests, he argued.

Berners-Lee told a Washington Post event last week that he launched the Solid projet in response to concerns about personal data being bought and sold without the consent of users.

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– ‘Don’t fail the web –

The platform aimed “to separate the apps from the data storage” so users could decide where and how they would share their personal information, he said.

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He acknowledged Monday that enforcible laws would be needed to protect the most sensitive personal data.

“Sometimes it has to be legislation which says personal data, you know, genetic data, should never be used,” he said.

In addition to his work advocating for data protection, Berners-Lee has launched a “Contract for the Web”, aimed at ensuring the integrity of online information.

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In a letter published Monday, he hailed the opportunities the web had created, giving marginalised groups a voice and making daily life easier.

But he warned, “it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred, and made all kinds of crimes easier to commit”.

He was nevertheless optimistic that the problems could be fixed.

“Given how much the web has changed in the past 30 years, it would be defeatist and unimaginative to assume that the web as we know it can’t be changed for the better in the next 30,” he wrote.

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“If we give up on building a better web now, then the web will not have failed us. We will have failed the web.”


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Actor Geoffrey Rush wins ‘largest ever’ Australian defamation payout from Rupert Murdoch

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Sydney (AFP) - Hollywood star Geoffrey Rush won a record multimillion-dollar payout Thursday after an appeal by a Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper against a defamation ruling was thrown out by an Australian court.The Oscar-winner will receive US$2 million for lost earnings and compensation after a court rejected an appeal seeking reduced costs and a retrial of the case.The decision -- against News Corp's Australian subsidiary Nationwide News -- is the latest twist in the ongoing legal battle between Rush and the Daily Telegraph, which accused him of inappropriate sexual behaviour toward female c... (more…)

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75 years ago: When atomic scientist Leo Szilard tried to halt dropping bombs over Japan

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As this troubled summer rolls along, and the world begins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation, and use, of the first atomic bombs, many special, or especially tragic, days will draw special attention.  They will include July 16 (first test of the weapon in New Mexico), August 6 (bomb dropped over Hiroshima) and August 9 (over Nagasaki).   Surely far fewer in the media and elsewhere will mark another key date:  July 3.

On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman's march to using the atomic bomb--still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity--against Japanese cities.

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‘Insane’: Park ranger shoots unarmed man through his heart and then handcuffs his dead body

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A ranger at Carlsbad Caverns National Park tased and then fatally shot a man during a New Mexico traffic stop and then handcuffed his lifeless body.

Charles "Gage" Lorentz was traveling March 21 from his work site in Pecos, Texas, to his family's home in southwest Colorado when he detoured at the national park to meet a friend, and that's where he encountered National Park Ranger Robert Mitchell, reported KOB-TV.

The ranger stopped the 25-year-old Lorentz for speeding on a dirt road near the park's Rattlesnake Springs area, and Mitchell's lapel video shows him ordering Lorentz to spread his feet and move closer to a railing.

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