Reclaiming the Web is vital if you care about individual freedom. It prevents abuse by big business and empowers individuals.
When Tim Berners-Lee invented the world Wide Web to help scientist share information, he soon realized it could benefit everyone, not just scientists. He became convinced that the ability for individuals to freely share information would enhance the whole world, and that the wealth of knowledge generated would benefit everyone. In 1991 he released the World Wide Web’s source code. Berners-Lee was so sure that this information sharing system should be freely available to everyone, that he did not patent his idea, nor place any restrictions on the source code itself. His intention was that everyone should benefit from his generosity.
The reality has been somewhat different. Initially, it did indeed work in the way intended. Individuals built upon the web and it was owned by no large companies. Over time, however, things have changed. Instead of a World Wide Web freely available to everyone, the Web has been monopolized by large business. Today, a few large multinational businesses, own vast amounts of information on the World Wide Web, and they make their money by selling information about the individuals who use the Web.
It has become almost impossible for individuals to counter the wealth and influence held by the large businesses concerned. Even governments cannot control them, not even when those governments band together. In 2017 the European Union fined Google $2.7 billion for manipulating online shopping markets, but during 2018 Google expect to make a staggering $124 billion (they made $31 billion in the first quarter).
Reclaiming the Web is essential if individuals are to be given complete control over their own information.
In 2017 Facebook exposed information about 80 million or more Facebook users to the political research firm, Cambridge Analytica.
In the spring of 2018 Tim Berners-Lee published an open letter entitled ‘The web is under threat. Join us and fight it‘. He pointed out the dangers and proposed a remedy:
The threats to the web today are real and many, including those that I described in my last letter — from misinformation and questionable political advertising to a loss of control over our personal data. But I remain committed to making sure the web is a free, open, creative space — for everyone. …
Two myths currently limit our collective imagination: the myth that advertising is the only possible business model for online companies, and the myth that it’s too late to change the way platforms operate. On both points, we need to be a little more creative.
Reclaiming the web is vital. There are alternatives to selling information or selling advertising. There are other ways in which businesses can make money online. It is not too late to change the way in which the World Wide Web works. Solid is a platform built upon the existing World Wide Web, which enables individuals to reclaim the web for themselves.