How the inventor of the internet plans to make it safe and accessible for everyone

internet

(Leon Seibert, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Katharine Rooney, Senior Writer, Formative Content


  • Half the world is connected to the internet today.
  • Concerns about civility, bullying and hate speech on the internet are growing.
  • Contract for the Web includes nine principles to fix the internet and make it safe and accessible for everyone.

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web in 1989, he envisioned it as an information management system for CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, where he was working at the time.

 

Today, half the world is online. And while that access brings tremendous benefits, it also fosters some of society’s worst behaviour.

South Africa tops the list of countries where the most abrasive digital encounters take place – but there are no geographic boundaries when it comes to incivility and deception.

Tim Berners-Lee wants the internet to be safer and more accessible for all.
Image: World Economic Forum

“While the web has created opportunity, given marginalized groups a voice, and made our daily lives easier, it has also created opportunity for scammers, given a voice to those who spread hatred and made all kinds of crimes easier to commit,” says Berners-Lee.

His solution? A Contract for the Web, a plan to make online activity safe and accessible for everyone. Berners-Lee compares the contract to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which enshrines dignity and freedom for all people.

“As the web reshapes our world, we have a responsibility to make sure it is recognized as a human right and built for the public good,” he says in a statement on behalf of the Web Foundation, the non-governmental organization he founded to promote digital equality.

The contract outlines nine principles for governments, companies and the public, including commitments to ensure everyone can access the internet, that trust is secured through the protection of personal privacy and data and that civility and dignity are front of mind. It’s backed by 150 tech organizations, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

What is the World Economic Forum doing about ensuring access to the internet for all?

In 2018, internet connectivity finally reached over half the world’s population. Yet some 3.4 billion people – about 50% of the world’s population – are still not online.

Although much progress has been made in closing this digital divide, the challenge remains overwhelming, complex and multidimensional. It requires a collaborative, multistakeholder approach to overcome four key barriers to internet inclusion: infrastructure; affordability; skills, awareness and cultural acceptance; and relevant content.

The World Economic Forum launched Internet for All in 2016 to provide a platform where leaders from government, private-sector, international organizations, non-profit organizations, academia and civil society could come together and develop models of public-private collaboration for internet inclusion globally.

Since its launch, Internet for All has achieved significant on-the-ground results globally – including launching four operational country programmes in Rwanda, South Africa, Argentina and Jordan.

Read more about our results, and ongoing efforts to ensure access to the internet for all in our impact story.

Contact us to partner with the Forum and shape the future of our digital economy.

Affronted by anger

There are many prominent critics of inappropriate use of the internet. At a recent speech to the Anti-Defamation League, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen described social media platforms as “the greatest propaganda machine in history,” citing the rapid spread of conspiracy theories, hate crimes and bullying online. He suggested social media companies be held responsible for the propagation of hateful material and so-called “fake news” on their sites.

Former US president Barack Obama, meanwhile, has taken young activists to task for being overly critical online: “There is this sense sometimes of, ‘The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people,’” he said. “If all you are doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far.”

A digital future for all

Alongside concerns about anti-social behaviour, Berners-Lee’s contract emphasizes the need to bring the rest of the world online through ambitious policies and investment connectivity – especially in unserved and underserved areas.

The World Economic Forum is supporting a similar objective through its Internet for All initiative, working to get millions of new users online through both country-level programmes and global collaboration.

There are 3.9 billion internet users worldwide – but in the world’s poorest countries, less than 5% of the population is online.

Berners-Lee’s hope is that, 30 years after the introduction of his revolutionary idea, it will bring ever-more positive change to the world.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Boris as UK Premier to be cornered if attempting a no-deal Brexit

Malta: Human rights experts call for justice in case of murdered journalist

The company of the future must do well by doing good

Germany’s strong anti-bribery enforcement against individuals needs to be matched by comparably strong enforcement against companies

Parliament compromises on Banking Union but sends market abusers to jail

Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

COP21 Breaking News_10 December: UN Climate Chief Calls for Final Push to Meet Adaptation Fund Goal Very Close to Target

EU car manufacturers worry about an FTA with Japan

Access to ‘affordable’ medicines in India: challenges & solutions

Myanmar doing too little to ensure displaced Rohingya return: UN refugee agency chief

Tuesday’s Daily Brief: hate speech, dementia, Libya and Yemen, human rights in Brazil and Lebanon

Civilian death toll continues to mount in Syria, UN relief chief tells Security Council

From a refugee camp to Davos: one Co-Chair’s story

EU and China resolve amicably solar panel trade dispute

‘By no means is this over’: WHO briefing

Sustainable development funding is broken. Here’s how to fix it

How COVID-19 is driving a long-overdue revolution in education

Ditching plastic straws isn’t enough. Here’s how to achieve zero waste.

Green Deal: Coal and other carbon-intensive regions and the Commission launch the European Just Transition Platform

US-EU trade war: Berlin fearful of the second round

This is what the world’s waste does to people in poorer countries

Gender inequality in the medicine field: two commonly issues

Scotland wants to create an ethical stock exchange (Post Brexit)

UN agency plan tackles ‘hidden cost’ of gold, paves way for safer, mercury-free mining

Measuring consumer confidence isn’t useful anymore. Here’s what we should do instead

State aid: Commission invites comments on simplified rules for State aid combined with EU support

Eurozone again whipped by Greek winds

This is how many people are forcibly displaced worldwide

Pandemic and mental health: what to do in this context?

Healthcare’s a human right, not ‘a privilege for the rich’ UNAIDS argues at Davos

Lithuania finds the ways to maintain its energy security

‘Regional security and integration’ in Central Africa under threat, Security Council warned

Protests and civil unrest show ‘renewed sense of patriotism’ in Iraq, UN envoy tells Security Council

Young students envision turning Europe into an Entrepreneurial Society

What the car industry has done to help fight climate change – and what it needs to do next

Ebola situation worsening in DR Congo, amidst growing ‘funding gap’ UN health agency warns

How can coronavirus lockdowns end safely and effectively? – WHO briefing

GSMA Reveals Shortlist For 2019 Asia Mobile Awards

New rules for temporary border controls within the Schengen area

World Malaria Day: 7 things to know about the deadly disease

China’s impact as a global investor; the Sting reports live from World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

The challenges of Chinese investment in Latin America

Federalist EU ‘naively’ believes Washington shares her TTIP high fever

Japanese law professor elected new judge at the International Court of Justice

G20 LIVE: the EU trade gold rush continues as EU and Australia agree to launch Free Trade Agreement (FTA) live from Antalya Turkey

Combatting terrorism: EP special committee calls for closer EU cooperation

World Digital Media Awards winners announced at WNMC.19 in Glasgow, in association with The European Sting

Jean-Claude Juncker and Theresa May at last week’s EU Council. Source: EC Audiovisual Services / Copyright: European Union, 2017 / Photo: Etienne Ansotte

EU leaders open “Phase Two” of Brexit talks and warn Theresa May of tougher times

Globalization 4.0 will help us tackle climate change. Here’s how

EU invests more than €100 million in new LIFE Programme projects to promote a green and climate-neutral Europe

EU citizens disenchanted with Economic and Monetary Union over rising poverty and high unemployment

Shaping the future of democracy in Armenia

Brexit casts a shadow over the LSE – Deutsche Börse merger: a tracer of how or if brexit is to be implemented

Poorer countries set to be ‘increasingly dependent’ on food imports, says UN food agency report

Medical students as the critical link to address climate change

The Amazon is reaching a dangerous tipping-point. We need to scale solutions now if we have any chance of saving it

Portraits show ‘dignity and humanity’ of Holocaust survivors, 75 years after Auschwitz liberation

UN chief commends African Union on adoption of institutional reforms

Peru is building a new international airport near Machu Picchu – and archaeologists are worried

Investment, not debt, can kick-start an entrepreneurial Europe

More Stings?

Advertising

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s