World Wide Web celebrates 30 years in existence

Google Doodle celebrates World Wide Web's 30th birthday

Numerous world's largest web-based companies, such as Facebook, Twitter and Google, have come under scrutiny over data privacy issues and the rising spread of malicious and offensive content.

Google is celebrating the 30th birth anniversary of the World Wide Web with an evocative doodle.

Although Mike Sendall will always be remembered for his caution about the web, Berners-Lee says he was never anything other than totally supportive of his work.

During its current "digital adolescence", the web has been especially affected by dysfunctional problems like state-sponsored hacking, online harassment, hate speech and misinformation, he warned.

In the letter, Berners-Lee identifies three main "sources of dysfunction" that plague today's web (he appears to use the words "web" and "internet" as synonyms, which isn't quite true, but we'll let it slide). The fact is that www is a group of pages that you see online, while the Internet is a huge network through which computers and devices across the world are interconnected.

The World Wide Web Foundation is now developing what it calls a Contract for the Web, which aims to ensure access to the internet is recognised as a human right - built for the public good.

Speaking to reporters at CERN, the physics research centre outside Geneva where he invented the web, Berners-Lee said users of the web had found it "not so pretty" recently.

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While few would argue with these high-minded sentiments, it may be easier said than done convincing companies that make money out of the web, particularly given the level of cut-throat competition that the internet has created.

In his article, Berners-Lee acknowledged major shortcomings of his brainchild, saying people "feel afraid and unsure if the web is really a force for good".

While he is happy that half of the world's population is now online, it is the other half he is anxious about. "We will have failed the web", he wrote.

Crucially, Berners-Lee called for the upcoming Contract for the Web to be a kind of guiding star that must also be flexible enough to adapt to the pace of technology. His foundation is working with web companies and governments on a Contract for the Web, which will "establish clear norms, laws and standards that underpin the web".

Published last November, the "contract" asks people to commit to a free web, and to respect the right to privacy, among other principles.

Many websites from the early days of the Web have gone dark, but the first one is still live.

"Governments and large companies realise that there are things they need to do to fix the web and that they need to be good responsible participants", he said.

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