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#Web25, Net Neutrality and Open Source


Twenty-five years ago, on March 12, 1989, a proposal to make information sharing possible over computers was put forth by Sir Tim Berners-Lee. The British computer scientist distributed the document to his colleagues at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, in Geneva, titled, “Information Management: A Proposal.” Thus today marks the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the World Wide Web, now coined #web25.

Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the web
Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the web

In honour of this day, Berners-Lee has called for the internet he invented to stay free and open by lobbying for the development of a “digital bill of rights” which would ensure online freedom. In a guest post on Google’s official blog, Berners-Lee emphasized that  an unrestricted web is vital to human development by stating:

“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities, and diversity of culture.”

Additionally, these comments echo the thoughts from Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen in an article which references recent web censorship by governments in countries such as Russia and Iran, <insert Zambia>, but also says that given the “energies and opportunities out there,” it would be possible to end repressive internet censorship within a decade.

Furthermore, Berners-Lee is a devoted supporter of maintaining unfettered access to an internet that is gradually becoming more restricted, thus, points to the Web at 25 campaign. In his greeting, he urges people to remember that, “the Web was built by all of us, and so we all can, and should, play a role in defining its future”.

Three core principles which must be defended in order to tackle some key challenges are highlighted:

  • How do we connect the nearly two-thirds of the planet who can’t yet access the Web?
  • Who has the right to collect and use our personal data, for what purpose and under what rules?
  • How do we create a high-performance open architecture that will run on any device, rather than fall back into proprietary alternatives?

Fellow net neutrality campaigners, World Wide Web Foundation and the Web We Want campaign, have also joined the cause.

You too can join the campaign by sending a birthday message to the Web using #web25 (i.e. hashtag web25) on any social media platform. Some notable special birthday greetings come from the likes of Sir Richard Branson, and the British Monarch. Berners-Lee hopes the campaign will act as a focal point for the kind of grassroots action he’s calling for.

Image credit: Wired

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