'Digital dystopia': Internet inventor warns web 'not working for women'
Internet users must fight to keep control of their data, says the inventor of the World Wide Web, British scientist Tim Berners-Lee AFP / PHILIPPE DESMAZES

The internet is "not working for women" and is fueling a new era of widespread abuse against females, the creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, warned on Thursday.

In a bleak assessment published on the World Wide Web Foundation, an organization founded by Berners-Lee that advocates a free and open web for all, he also argued that a "dangerous trend" of abuse threatens any advances in gender equality.

"The web is not working for women and girls," he wrote.

"The world has made important progress on gender equality thanks to the unceasing drive of committed champions everywhere.

"But I am seriously concerned that online harms facing women and girls -- especially those of color, from LGBTQ+ communities and other marginalized groups -- threaten that progress."

The abuse was so extensive that "over half of young women surveyed have experienced violence online", said Berners-Lee, citing a survey from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

The world-famous computer engineer also highlighted that discrimination was being further fueled as many women could not get access to the internet.

Citing the foundation's own research, he said men were 21 percent more likely to be online, rising to 52 percent in the world's least developed countries.

Berners-Lee said such inequalities threaten the "Contract for the Web", a global action plan he launched a year ago to prevent the internet becoming a "digital dystopia".