The Web We Have to Save

3 minute read Published

Regarding Sir Tim-Berners Lee's article on saving the Web

In March of 2017 Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web posted a short article on The Guardian covering three things we need to do to save the Web.

To paraphrase, they are:

  • Increase individual control over sharing of personal data
  • Improve diversity in Social media and Search channels
  • Create more transparency behind political advertising

The third of which is, in my opinion, really just an extension of the second, so let’s briefly cover the first two and what you can do as individuals to address Tim’s concerns right now. When you’re finished, you’ll have a deeper understanding of how to protect your privacy online.

Increase individual control over sharing of personal data

There have been steps taken recently by the EU to help individuals gain control over their personal data in the form of the “Cookie Law”, which, unfortunately, has lead to a bevy of websites throwing up banners in traditional ad spaces explaining they use cookies. Only everyone knows that already. Pretty annoying an ineffectual if you ask me. So ineffectual, in fact, the very organization responsible for producing legislation behind the Cookie Law will stop asking permission to set cookies on their very own website. What a gas.

Anyway, to gain control over personal data such a heavy-handed approach should not be used. Instead, raising awareness and helping individuals understand how to go Beyond Incognito, and to read the terms of websites they visit, is a much better approach to putting individuals in control of their information if you ask me. Onwards.

Improve diversity in Social media and Search channels

In my opinion, social media is the number one threat to privacy online. I don’t mind my information being stored in miniature silos as I surf, just so long as those silos do not connect me in any way to the Social Graph. But with Facebook they are indeed connected, and they are connected in some very heinous ways. We have only capitalism to thank for that mess. And it’ll take years before competitors such as Snap, Inc. are able to counter it (but I believe eventually they will).

As for search, I have only one suggestion. We need to break up Google like when we broke up Ma Bell during the Regan Administration. It’s an unfortunate shame to see just how much power and dominance Google exerts over the free flow of information on the Web. And in their monopoly over search the only way to fix it may be through Antitrust law. In the meanwhile, if you want to get a better glimpse at the gems which lie beyond page one of the Google SERP, simply change your default search provider to DuckDuckGo and call it a day. I did so several years ago, and I’ve personally felt more secure online ever since.

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