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Whistleblowers needed to check excesses by governments and corporations, says Berners-Lee

Narrowing digital divide can help improve healthcare and clean water in developing countries

  • By Himendra Mohan KumarAnd Binsal Abdul KaderStaff Reporter
  • Published: 19:54 October 22, 2013
  • Gulf News

Abu Dhabi

Whistleblowers like the Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former CIA employee Edward Snowden are needed in today’s world to expose the excesses being committed by governments and corporations. This would help ensure the human rights are not violated, Tim Berners-Lee, Inventor of the World Wide Web and Director, World Wide Web Consortium said yesterday.

Addressing delegates at the fourth Abu Dhabi Media Summit 2013 via satellite from New York, on the topic ‘The state of the digital planet’ Berners-Lee said: “The systems of accountability have failed, particularly in the US and the UK Whistleblowers are seen as people acting in the net interest of human race. However, people need to be responsible as whistleblowers, they should be seen as someone doing minimum harm and maximum good for the society at large,” he said, while being remotely interviewed by Mathew Garrahan, Los Angeles Correspondent of Financial Times.

Separately, he said there is a huge digital divide among the world population although that gulf is being bridged. Two-thirds of humanity is not connected to the internet.

“Proliferation of smart phones in the developing countries will help in the spread of the internet,” said Berners-Lee, although noting that the cost of data access and basic internet speed is still very high for most users and the price of a smart phone is a frightening proportion of an average family’s income.

He said internet can help improve healthcare and access to clean water. If there is an internet infrastructure, it is very easy to disseminate information about inedible food and availability of clean water etc. among the people, he said. “When you have an internet infrastructure, you can pass such information very quickly to the people.”

Internet helps healthcare of ordinary people as well as commerce, he said.

While answering a question on the openness of internet, Berners-Lee said the serious cybercrime problem on the internet has to be considered in this regard.

“The internet should have complete online privacy. At present, there’s a debate going on across the world on how to protect the rights of internet users.”

He said one should be able to communicate with others with full privacy. However, he also said the police need to be given a lot of powers to nab the cyber criminals.

But there should be a system to balance the power of police and protection of human rights, he said.

Berners-Lee said the open web is a “very exciting concept. Monopolies on the web have become almost obsolete because of innovation.”

Breners-Lee, a British computer scientist, is best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web. He made a proposal for an information management system in March 1989, and he implemented the first successful communication between a Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) client and server via the Internet sometime around mid-November. He is also the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation.

In a separate session, Andy Bird, Chairman, Walt Disney International, spoke about the art of emerging market expansion and story telling in a global marketplace. He said the way of story telling is more important than technology used for communication

Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Media Summit and Chairman of twofour54, delivered the welcome address at the opening session.

Held under the patronage of General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the three-day summit at Yas Viceroy Hotel on Yas Island is hosting several key influencers from the global media industry.

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