ON OPENNESS
TIM BERNERS-LEE
Visionary: Inventor, World Wide Web

I published my proposal for the World Wide Web in 1989. From the outset, I imagined it as an open, universal space, where anyone, anywhere could take their ideas and bring them to life without having to ask for permission or pay royalties. I hardwired these factors into the Web’s design and made a conscious decision not to try to copyright or patent it. In 1993, CERN, my employers at the time, agreed to make the code available to anyone, royalty-free, forever.
This openness is at the core of what makes the Web powerful. It has underpinned the decades of creativity and innovation, opening up access to information, letting us communicate and collaborate across borders, and creating new industries. But now, as the Web matures, this openness is under threat.
Some governments have stepped up censorship of information they feel threatened by, using Web-based technologies to monitor citizens or even shutting down the internet in their jurisdiction. And some companies are also trying to limit openness for financial gain by challenging the principle that all internet traffic is treated equally — net neutrality. The internet is both a market for bandwidth and a market enabler (content, social networks, etc.). Strong net neutrality rules separating these markets are key. Otherwise, one set of interests can control the other — a disaster for innovation.
No single individual can control the future of the Web, but together we can keep it open and build the Web we want.

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