Berners-Lee – a serious moment for the web’s future

I don’t see it referred to as the web much any more, but I guess Tim Berners-Lee can call it what he likes.

This is a serious moment for the web’s future. But I want us to remain hopeful. The problems we see today are bugs in the system. Bugs can cause damage, but bugs are created by people, and can be fixed by people.

I can imagine Mark Zuckerberg is devastated that his creation has been abused and misused. (Some days I have the same feeling).

I would say to him: You can fix it. It won’t be easy but if companies work with governments, activists, academics and web users we can make sure platforms serve humanity.

General rules for us all: Any data about me, wherever it is, is mine and mine alone to control. If you are given the right to use data for one purpose, use it for that purpose alone.

Is this a bit naive? Appealing to the goodness of people might work with good people, but many are not so good.

If you have access to data for research purposes, it is REALLY IMPORTANT that you ONLY uses it for research purposes. So much important science and medicine depends on that data

My message to all web users today is this: I may have invented the web, but you make it what it is. And it’s up to all of us to build a web that reflects our hopes & fulfils our dreams more than it magnifies our fears & deepens our divisions.

What can web users do? Get involved. Care about your data. It belongs to you. If we each take a little of the time we spend using the web to fight for the web, I think we’ll be ok. Tell companies and your government representatives that your data and the web matter.

And to every digital rights organisation large and small, to every journalist investigating the impact of data and the web on our world – thank you. Keep fighting for the web we want. The web will not realise its potential without you



  1. Gezza

     /  March 24, 2018

    The Web probably IS a good thing to call, given how difficult it is to escape from, & the wide range of predators who lurk on it.

  2. Pickled Possum

     /  March 24, 2018

    Kinda like saying “Come Back Horsey” and “Who Left the Gate Open?”
    Facebook and Netflix are just a few that are shaping our World.

    “The web will not realise its potential without you.” says Tim.

    I for one get some much connectivity with the web. with my whanau whanaunga hapu iwi
    they might be hundreds of miles away from me but the internet gives instant connection with them all. I for one am not going to jeopardise that with

  3. Griff

     /  March 24, 2018

    You gave them the data.
    The identity behind Griff has a face book account so I am visible to anyone one from my past who wants to get in touch.
    I dont load it with screeds of easily mineable information about me.
    I am also careful with my email accounts .
    I keep a separate account for “Griff” and the real me.
    This separation has been hacked twice.
    You need to be careful about your identity it is valuable often for reasons that you would often not be comfortable with.
    You also need to be aware that much of what you see on the web is supplied by algorithms that mine your data to present information for the benefit of others . When you search on the web what you get is influenced by third party’s with ulterior motives .

    Face book twitter et al is free because they sell your information to others.
    You are the product not the client.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 24, 2018

      Anyone who puts personal, private things on Facebook for anyone to see can’t complain if people look !

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 24, 2018

        etc, not et al; et al is people (et alia)

  4. So why is Facebook hanging on to that data?
    And how much simpler if they deleted the lot.
    Think of the reduction in the number of servers.
    And others wouldn’t be using that data for their own purposes

  5. NOEL

     /  March 24, 2018

    “General rules for us all: Any data about me, wherever it is, is mine and mine alone to control. If you are given the right to use data for one purpose, use it for that purpose alone.”
    First one is fine with me but for the second it reminds me of our Privacy Act, easily circumvented .

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  March 24, 2018

      Neither of those rules are realistic. I can compile data about you just by observing you. Then I can retain it and use it for any future purpose I find it useful. That is how the world works and evolution has progressed. Trying to deny the blatantly obvious is a doomed enterprise. TBL comes across as a naive fop.

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 24, 2018

        I haven’t heard anyone using the word fop for a long time.

        There’s a character in a Restorian comedy called Sir Fopling Flutter.