Google, Facebook join web creator Berners-Lee's campaign to defend free internet

English scientist Tim Berners Lee from the Web Foundation addresses the opening ceremony of annual Web Summit technology conference in Lisb

Sir Tim Berners-Lee launches 'Magna Carta for the web' to save internet from abuse

"We have become accustomed to having everything for free, and we have under-estimated the cost", he wrote last may in a mini-manifesto published by the New York Times, where he talks about the problems of the financial models of the major digital platforms, based on the advertising.

Among those scheduled to speak at the event is Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who earlier this year said users' data from Facebook was used by British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help elect US President Donald Trump - a claim denied by the company.

Berners-Lee, who in 1989 invented the World Wide Web as a way to exchange information, said the internet had deviated from the goals its founders had envisaged. Berners-Lee is against this, claiming that "if you sign up to the principles, you can't do censorship".

Putting the combined companies' wealth and power into perspective, Reuters estimates that "Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have a combined market capitalization of $3.7 trillion, equal to Germany's gross domestic product past year". The two tech giants now have direct influence over almost three quarters of all internet traffic thanks to the vast amounts of apps and services they own such as YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Freeing constraints " We have big and small players, it's not the United Nations of the digital world, it's a call for voluntary engagement, for those who want to be part of the solution, whether they're part of the problem or not", the foundation's policy director, Nnenna Nwakanma, told AFP. He claims it is the government's responsibility to see that all citizens have internet access.

Jonathan Zittrain, a law professor at Harvard University and author of The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It said: "To me, the most important function of the contract is to remind people that the web we have isn't the only one possible".

The Web Summit was launched in Dublin in 2010 and moved to Lisbon six years later.

The contract (in its current, work-in-progress version) includes some short principles aimed towards three sectors: government, private companies, and citizens. I think this has been a tipping point. He called for businesses, individuals and governments to support the "Contract for the Web" at the Web Summit in Lisbon on Monday.

So what is your take on the issue?

Users have access to services seemingly for free (messaging, search and sharing of information, videos...), but, in exchange, their personal data are sold to advertisers.

"Those of us who are online are seeing our rights and freedoms threatened", he said in a statement announcing the project, which was organized by his nonprofit the World Wide Web Foundation. The other reminds us that it can be hijacked by toxic actors looking to get away with (figurative) murder.

Companies should make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone, respect consumers' privacy and personal data, and "develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst".

US will regret sanctions