Saving the Web

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Back in March 1989 when British computer programmer Tim Berners-Lee grew frustrated logging on to different computers at CERN in Geneva to access different information, he wrote a software. Two years later when his ‘information management system’ was released to the world, it became known as the web browser ‘World Wide Web’. As gateway to the global interconnected computer network, or Internet, WWW helped usher in the Information Age. India rode this wave too, her techies making it to Silicon Valley and other IT hotspots, eventually heading several IT giants and establishing start-ups. But as the world celebrates three decades of the Web, Berners-Lee is a worried man. Last year, he began a campaign ‘Contract for the Web’ aiming to establish clear norms, laws and standards to underpin the Web. With the likes of Facebook and Google among more than 50 companies that have signed up for this campaign, the contract will be published in May next. It is true that the Web (which gave way to Internet Explorer and then to Chrome and Firefox) brought people across the world together, gave the marginalized a voice through social media, opened the doors to online marketing and 24-hours entertainment, and will soon make the ‘internet of things’ and smart home ubiquitous. But Berners-Lee now wants to save his creation from evils like invasion of privacy, fake news, hate speech, unregulated political advertising and state-sponsored hacking. On the success of seers like him rest the hopes of the digitally deprived.