Tim Berners-Lee had created the World Wide Web in 1989, creating “an information space where documents and other web resources” could be shared. The creation of the World Wide Web led to the development of the Information Age, or the transition from traditional industry to an economy based on information computerization. Billions of people use the World Wide Web to communicate and interact on the Internet. It is constantly expanding with more and more web pages formatted by HTML that also include images, video, audio, and other software components that allowed a web browser to be used as a “library” of coherent pages of multimedia content.
Over 28 years ago, Berners-Lee had written the blueprint for what he envisioned the future of the World Wide Web was going to be. Today, he says he is very alarmed of what his creation has turned into. In a statement issued from London, he said that “Over the past 12 months, I’ve become increasingly worried about three new trends, which I believe we must tackle in order for the web to fulfill its true potential as a tool which serves all of humanity.” These three trends included comprised personal data, fake news that Berners-Lee compared to “spreading like wildfire,” and a very underwhelming amount of regulation in political advertising, leading to a direct threat to democracy.
Berners-Lee feels that the World Wide Web is being restricted from its main purpose: to be used as a space to “explore important topics, like sensitive health issues, sexuality, or religion.” After a recent disclosure by WikiLeaks of certain documents containing vast VIA surveillance operations, Berners-Lee’s affirmations have just been confirmed. The public is losing more and more freedom, and the World Wide Web has lost its original purpose.
In 2009, Berners-Lee founded the Web Foundation to improve the web and inhibit the negative aspects of the web from spreading. His original proposal for the Web was an open platform that would allow everyone to share and access information, allowing for collaboration from users around the world.
But, Berners-Lee’s dream is becoming dimmer by the day. A series of high-profile hacks and the rampant spread of fake news, especially on social media, has tainted the Web and its intended purpose. The CIA leaks had completely changed the way people looked at the Web. Although before the incident, many people were suspicious of the government, but did not necessarily believe something this big would be happening. Now, the public has access to information that proves that the CIA was planning to use consumer devices, including Smartphones and TVs, as surveillance devices.
The Information Age is transitioning once again to an era of “cyber war.” Sean Smith, a professor of computer science at Dartmouth College and author of The Internet of Risky Things, has said that surveillance and exploitation of consumer devices is “already happening.” He went on to say that “if the CIA is working on breaking into phones like other hackers, you can bet it’s working on other devices, just like hackers,” referring to recently discovered malware in medical devices at major healthcare providers across the globe, signifying potentially detrimental effects around the world.
The same flaws can be applied to “smart vehicles,” a new technology that is predominantly focused on improving self-driving technology. A Wired report discussed how hackers were able to remotely hijack a jeep and disable its brakes, Smith says.
Vince Steckler, CEO of computer-security firm Avast Software, said that the leaks from WikiLeaks have just “revealed an open secret for years in the security community.” He goes onto say that “if anything, the disclosure informs the general public how exposed infrastructure really is. Any that might be a good thing.”
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