Exactly 25 years after creating a technology now used by 40 percent of the human population, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called for a bill of rights-style agreement for the world wide web.
As we’ve covered elsewhere on Geeks Are Sexy, 12 March 1989 was the day Berners-Lee first wrote to other staff at CERN to suggest using hypertext (which was already used for internal links within documents) as a way to create a web of links between different documents stored on different machines, allowing easier pooling of knowledge and information.
Writing on the anniversary, Berners-Lee reiterated the key design points that allowed the web to grow in popularity: it is “universal, royalty-free, open and decentralized.” He then detailed what he sees as the three main challenges for the web in the coming years: getting the remaining 60+ percent of the world online; making sure the web continues to run on an open architecture so it can run on any device; and dealing with the question of what rules should govern the collection of personal data.
Speaking to the BBC, Berners-Lee condemned the apparent increase in online surveillance by governments and said it was time for the entire online community to decide if it was content to allow such snooping or if it should “set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it’s so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?”
The World Wide Web Foundation, which Berners-Lee set up, is now running a campaign called Web We Want to protect online freedoms and a truly open web. It says other key issues include affordable access to the web, a decentralized infrastructure, and “neutral networks.”