Internet censorship is a serious threat and sets a dangerous precedent for countries to block information and curb free speech, said Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, at a lecture at Sultan Qaboos University on Tuesday.
“The job of the Internet is to be transparent and be a means to an end-to-end system. If we use the Web we should preserve its properties and in doing so make the world a diverse and exciting place,” said Sir Berners-Lee in his speech that described his childhood, inventing the Web and what the future holds for new technologies.
He made a push for an open data policy on the Web and encouraged sharing of data for research and information. “We have to value the importance of linking data as it allows one to work or learn from a third person who might be an unknown entity. The process of linking data requires a limited amount of energy, but one that results in larger benefits.”
On how data sharing by the public and private sectors can be encouraged, Sir Berners-Lee said that when one company takes the first step in providing information and is immediately recognised for its efforts, others follow. “But then there could be people whose job is to provide information, and they may be reluctant to make it open to all as it would make them redundant. So we should make it a point to give credit for any information used, and also honour people for their share of work.”
He also spoke about the Web Index, which is the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s growth, utility and impact on people and nations. It covers 61 developed and developing countries, incorporating indicators that assess the Web’s political, economic and social impact, as well as indicators of Web connectivity and infrastructure.
“Although Oman is not part of it, I hope that by next year it can provide information and be on the list. The index shows how best the Web is being used and what its social impact is,” he added.