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Tim Berners-Lee Urges Web Users: 'Care About Your Data' ( 118

"As the web celebrated its 29th birthday last week, Berners-Lee expressed disappointment with how his invention has turned out," reports MarketWatch. "He criticized Facebook and other tech heavyweights last week, saying they have 'made it possible to weaponize the web at scale.'

"But on Monday, the British computer scientist essentially told Zuck to buck up. 'I would say to him: You can fix it,' Berners-Lee tweeted. 'It won't be easy, but if companies work with governments, activists, academics and web users, we can make sure platforms serve humanity.'"

Tim Berners-Lee writes: 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.... 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... 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.

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Tim Berners-Lee Urges Web Users: 'Care About Your Data'

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    If everyone could host servers, the problem of centralized data harvesting would evaporate overnight.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      So suddenly Tim "DRM" Berners-Lee cares about the little people?

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, lets all ignore the person who invented the web because he did something you don't agree with once.

        • Yeah, lets all ignore the person who invented the web because he did something you don't agree with once.

          All hail the Slashdot Way!

    • This is what blockchain can and does provide. The future of the open web will be on crypto.
    • Only servile senile old servants run servers! Apps are where it's 'appening!

    • You have a point. Sure, people can use dynamic DNS, but ISP restrictions prevent an ecosystem of peers growing naturally.

      Another reason: viable decentralised social network software isn't there. I tried a couple @home social networks, including Elgg. It didn't work well.

  • by CaptainDork ( 3678879 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @01:44PM (#56319481)

    ... it's that it's way too late to do anything about it.

    The Internet is infected with capitalism and there ain't one goddam fucking thing that can be done about it.

    • There is a swamp. Don't despair; just walk round it.

    • by DogDude ( 805747 )
      You can easily not interact with the crappy portion of the web.
      • List all the parts of the web that are not crappy with capitalism.

        Wait, name one part.

        • by DogDude ( 805747 )
          There are tons of individual web pages out there that are run by individuals. Tons.
          • I know you're not making the mistake of declaring that individual web pages are barred from making money, so what, precisely, is you point?

            • by DogDude ( 805747 )
              I don't give two shits about making money. That's not why the web exists.

              My point is that not all of the web is shit. There's plenty of non-commercial web out there.
              • Actually, money is the reason the Internet exists.

    • I know right? Facebook is not hurting for anything and their future is looking bright. What defeatist attitude!

      There is always something that can be done about things and sitting around bemoaning your impotence is hardly a solution of any kind. The only thing it will do is make you ripe for suckering when the next ism comes around and promises you riches and wealth if you just sign up for it.

      • Your worldview is too small.

        It's not Facebook.

        It's the whole world wide web.

        No one's going to undo what's been done.

        You know that.

        • Is there something you seek to achieve here? No one want's to undo what has been done. They want to take advantage of it... to "capitalize" upon it. Where is your voice? It is nowhere, I do not see a single politician in the news saying we can't undo this, but I do see a lot of them ready to take advantage of it to do something about it.

          Your attitude is going to help make sure this problem never goes away and that a politician will be able to capitalize on it in some way and advance new laws that look l

          • It's not attitude, it's experience.

            I helped bring the Internet into the world and I saw the very first occurrences of spam.

            When people realized that the Internet was attracting eyeballs, the money changers hit and it's exploded since then.

            Efforts to control that are like pissing in the wind.

    • I disagree. It is in the hands of each of us. IF we ALL do our part, capitalism can be reigned in and fixed.

      Besides, "capitalism" is inherently a dog-eat-dog system anyway - survival of the fittest.
      As opposed to the more human friendly democratic socialism.
      • The hands of each of us (USA) is invested in the capitalism that infects the Internet.

        I'm not divesting -- are you?

  • Sorry Tim but your wrong here, you can't fix facebook because the mistake is systemic - it's centralised, and there is no fix for that which results in facebook still existing and profiting from user data on the other side. So long as facebook exists it's users are in danger.
    • Pretty much.

      Zuck labored hard to wreck the web, and has profited immensely by doing it. To think that he will "fix" anything is ridiculous.

    • So long as facebook exists it's users are in danger.

      Only those who choose to be users.

      • I don't see how it's practical. Even if you're not a Facebook member, Facebook knows a lot about you from your IRL friends who have you in their phone contacts or tag you in photos and from logging the click stream from sites you visit that have Facebook's like button. These form what the media has referred to as a "shadow profile". And even if you use a DNS blocklist (hi APK!) to interfere with Facebook gathering your click stream, it's hard to control what members share about you.

      • Only those who choose to be users.

        That's not the case though. You CAN NOT choose not to be tracked; not being an user is just a mild inconvenience for the likes of Facebook.

        Facebook (and also Google) build shadow profiles on you, and they collect and correlate all kinds of data about you - both online and offline. Facebook slurps data about you from your friends' phone contact lists, from their tagged pictures, from web pages you visit which carry the Facebook tag. Google sucks your phone location data and your web searches. If you use thei

      • by dcw3 ( 649211 )

        Only those who choose to be users.

        Not true. My wife, who has no real social media presence, has been tagged in photos on FB by friends. Our privacy laws in the US suck.

    • So long as facebook exists it's users are in danger.

      The information its users reveal on it is what's in danger.

  • Of course people need to care.
    But they don't and they won't. Not so long as they get that Pavlovian response from a Like/RT/Share/Reply.

    Hell, we have scores here on ./, too.

    • Hell, we have scores here on ./, too.

      And if some of us cared about the downvotes, we would stop using /. But it's more important to express opinions that deserve to be heard. Personal feelings don't matter so much.

  • DRM? (Score:5, Informative)

    by lkcl ( 517947 ) <> on Saturday March 24, 2018 @02:01PM (#56319575) Homepage

    are we talking about the same Tim Berners Lee, the one that has corporate sponsors paying him to put DRM into HTML5? why would we listen to him at all?

    • His call to users was just a lead-in to a call to Zuck.
      Tim is looking to get hired, I suppose. Maybe he too thinks "billionaires can save us".
  • by DeplorableCodeMonkey ( 4828467 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @02:10PM (#56319615)

    The public behaves like sheep and demands to be treated with respect...

    by wolves.

    No issue better illustrates this than gun control. Millions of voters who freak out at the idea of an armed public, taking responsibility for their own safety, etc. I'm not talking ARs in every closet; I'm talking Ms. Sophisticated Urbanite who wets herself at the idea of having a tiny .38 in her purse so she can do more than claw out the eyes of a rapist. Or Mr. Soccer Mom Dad who'd never own a 9mm/.40/.45 he could carry in public or a shotgun in case his home is burgled at night. They seriously believe they should be able to outsource everything to someone else and still not be treated like wards/sheep to be sheered by bad guys and the power structure.

    You want to be respected and feared as a group? You have to:

    1. Care.
    2. Take responsibility.
    3. Be willing to do your small part to make bad guys suffer.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >They seriously believe they should be able to outsource everything to someone else

      Nope, just violence.

      Violence has no place in a civilized society. You can't argue this point. That's the whole reason there is a police force. The only people sanctioned to commit violence are police. Everyone else gets punished and Soldiers are for wars.

      Plus, just picture the insane world you talk about. Every motherfucker got a gun? huh? That's truly insane. Think of all the people you see in a day and picture all of the

      • The only people sanctioned to commit violence are police. Everyone else gets punished

        This is exactly right. And it is exactly what is wrong with the current system.

        Laws and police protect the less predatory from the predatory so that there is not anarchy.

        Almost. Laws and police protect the predatory from the prey.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What a lousy comparison. How does using the internet put you at risk of dying? You must be really hung up on guns to try to steer the argument that way. But since you did. You really think gun control is about handguns? I know that "assault rifle" is a misleading term, but it's pretty clear these people who want gun control by getting rid of such things are talking about military style rifles that do a lot of harm very easily. I know gun owners who think that there is no need for AR-15s. The armed forces as

  • you need to learn to use the internet without letting the internet use YOU!!!
  • Maybe the systemic problems of the 'web' could be ameliorated by
    (a) charging based on one's net data consumption - i.e. if you run a server to host content you get paid when people pull it, if you pull content you pay for it; and
    (b) changing web protocols so the content receiver can query the size (and other characteristics) each component before bringing it down (or streaming it) to decide whether to pull it or not.
    Maybe also -
    (c) changing to decentralized protocols that somewhat protect against con
  • 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... Get involved. Care about your data. It belongs to you.

    Unfortunately, too many people did get involved, which allowed the corporations to build a web that preys on humanity's base values: greed, fear, catering to the lowest common demoninator and social stratification.

    Zuckerberg (who is really no different than a corporation) is making a shitload of money off the web that he has perverted. He has no incentive to change it.

    Also, "activists, academics and web users" have no ability to make significant changes to the web against governments and corporations, all

  • I keep saying this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @03:38PM (#56319927)
    but my online privacy is the least of my worries. I've got robots and H1-Bs coming for my jobs in a society where my entire quality of life depends on it. I've got no reliable access to healthcare and massively increasing drug prices. My country's fighting 8 wars and working on 9 and 10 and we just spend over half our 1.3 trillion budget on said wars. My kid's college costs keep going up and up with no end in sight. Politically I've got gerrymandering, voter suppression, dark money and rising authoritarianism. Oh, and the trade wars and Wallstreet deregulation are about to cause another economic crash...

    Besides, there are way, way better ways to oppress me than reading my facebook feed. Just keep letting inflation destroy my wages and put me in a constant state of economic fear. If it's one thing that makes dictatorships easy it's economic calamity.

    It's like that XKCD comic about 1024 bit encryption. They're just gonna use a wrench to beat it out of me.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Besides all that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs Lincoln?

    • Sounds like you've got a lot of worries. I'll shed a tear for you.

    • by thePsychologist ( 1062886 ) on Saturday March 24, 2018 @10:21PM (#56321221) Journal

      Hey, but the fact that we are all providing massive amounts of data to online megacorporations is part of the reason why all the money is funneling into the hands of the few in the first place.

      • They funneled that money just fine in the 80s, 90s, 00s without all that data. There was a _very_ brief respite following WWII and that's about it. Other than that and the rich have been in charge forever.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nobody 'invented' the web. It is the logical and natural progression of computers.

    He was at the right place at the right time. Claiming "I invented the web" is a bit pathetic.

  • "The fact that power is concentrated among so few companies has made it possible to weaponize the web at scale."

    This, coming from Tim Berners-Lee, who, against the principle of an open web, signed off on a DRMed HTML5, which puts control of the users' browsers the hands of media companies and content owners, distributors, and inevitably, governments and other hackers [1]. Talk about weaponizing the web.

    But I digress.

    Right now, the home office of Cambridge Analytica is being scoured by authorities in L

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