Here’s How Two Visionaries Want to Fix a Broken Internet

June 8, 2016, 3:44 PM UTC
Cannes Lions : Day Three
CANNES, FRANCE - JUNE 23: Computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee attends the PHD Worldwide seminar as part of Cannes Lions International Festival of creativity on June 23, 2015 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Francois G. Durand/Getty Images)
Francois G. Durand Getty Images

When Tim Berners-Lee or Brewster Kahle talk about the state of the Internet, people should probably listen. The two, after all, have contributed much to the global network that we all rely on for work, entertainment, and lifestyles.

Right now, neither Berners-Lee, who invented the World Wide Web as the way we navigate the Internet to find what we need, and Kahle, who founded the Internet Archive, which stores much of the world’s information that might otherwise disappear, are particularly happy with what’s been going on with the Internet.

Both pioneers were at the first-ever Decentralized Web Summit in San Francisco this week to discuss what’s gone wrong and what can be done to put it right, according to the New York Times.

For more, read: Edward Snowden: Privacy Remains Under Threat

The bad news: As the disclosures of former National Security Agency aide Edward Snowden showed, the Internet has become tool for state-sponsored surveillance of citizens, companies, and other countries. At the same time, China’s Great Firewall has demonstrated how governments can and do censor web content, keeping controversial information—such as the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square violence of 1989—out of the hands of citizens.

To compound matters, the sheer size of the companies that store data for hundreds of millions of users—Dropbox, Amazon (AMZN), Google (GOOG), and Facebook (FB)—give those companies too much power, according to the insurgent view.

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One key solution, which Berners-Lee has been pitching for years, is more decentralization of data. That would mean the use of more peer-to-peer communication in which devices communicate with each other but not through a central server. It potentially means that the digital currency ledger system could be used to enable more direct purchases. If you want to buy a song or a book, you find the musician or author site, initiate a transaction dealing directly with that rights holder, pay and download the song of book without Apple (AAPL) iTunes, Amazon (AMZN) Prime, or any other intermediary involved.

For more on internet censorship, watch:

The Decentralized Web site says its goal is to make the Web “open, secure and free of censorship by distributing data, processing, and hosting across millions of computers around the world, with no centralized control.

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