Its dangerous having a handful of companies control how ideas and opinions are shared. A regulator may be needed
Today, the world wide web turns 29. This year marks a milestone in the webs history: for the first time, we will cross the tipping point when more than half of the worlds population will be online.
When I share this exciting news with people, I tend to get one of two concerned reactions:
- How do we get the other half of the world connected?
- Are we sure the rest of the world wants to connect to the web we have today?
The threats to the web today are real 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.
That vision is only possible if we get everyone online, and make sure the web works for people. I founded the Web Foundation to fight for the webs future. Heres where we must focus our efforts:
Close the digital divide
The divide between people who have internet access and those who do not is deepening existing inequalities, inequalities that pose a serious global threat. Unsurprisingly, youre more likely to be offline if you are female, poor, live in a rural area or a low-income country, or some combination of the above. To be offline today is to be excluded from opportunities to learn and earn, to access valuable services, and to participate in democratic debate. If we do not invest seriously in closing this gap, the last billion will not be connected until 2042. Thats an entire generation left behind.
In 2016, the UN declared internet access a human right, on par with clean water, electricity, shelter and food. But until we make internet access affordable for all, billions will continue to be denied this basic right. The target has been set the UN recently adopted the Alliance for Affordable Internets threshold for affordability: 1GB of mobile data for less than 2% of average monthly income. The reality, however, is that were still a long way off from reaching this target in some countries, the cost of 1GB of mobile broadband remains more than 20% of average monthly income.
What will it take to actually achieve this goal? We must support policies and business models that expand access to the worlds poorest through public access solutions, such as community networks and public wifi initiatives. We must invest in securing reliable access for women and girls, and empowering them through digital skills training.
Make the web work for people
The web that many connected to years ago is not what new users will find today. What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms. This concentration of power creates a new set of gatekeepers, allowing a handful of platforms to control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared.
Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/us