The Guardian, 4 April 2017
(Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/apr/04/tim-berners-lee-online-privacy-interview-turing-award )The Trump administration’s decision to allow internet service providers (ISPs) to sign away their customers’ privacy and sell the browsing habits of their customers is “disgusting” and “appalling”, according to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web.
We’ve lost control of our personal data
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, World Wide Web Foundation, March 12, 2017
(Source: http://webfoundation.org/2017/03/web-turns-28-letter/ )The current business model for many websites offers free content in exchange for personal data. Many of us agree to this – albeit often by accepting long and confusing terms and conditions documents – but fundamentally we do not mind some information being collected in exchange for free services. But, we’re missing a trick. As our data is then held in proprietary silos, out of sight to us, we lose out on the benefits we could realise if we had direct control over this data, and chose when and with whom to share it. What’s more, we often do not have any way of feeding back to companies what data we’d rather not share – especially with third parties – the T&Cs are all or nothing.
This widespread data collection by companies also has other impacts. Through collaboration with – or coercion of – companies, governments are also increasingly watching our every move online, and passing extreme laws that trample on our rights to privacy. In repressive regimes, it’s easy to see the harm that can be caused – bloggers can be arrested or killed, and political opponents can be monitored. But even in countries where we believe governments have citizens’ best interests at heart, watching everyone, all the time is simply going too far. It creates a chilling effect on free speech and stops the web from being used as a space to explore important topics, like sensitive health issues, sexuality or religion.