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Tim Berners-Lee warns that tech giants may need to be ‘broken up’

SIR TIM-BERNERS LEE has warned that tech giants have grown so dominant that they may need to be broken up unless challengers or changes in taste reduce their clout.

Speaking to Reuters, Berners-Lee warned: “What naturally happens is you end up with one company dominating the field, so through history, there is no alternative to really coming in and breaking things up. There is a danger of concentration.”

The combined market value of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft is $3.7tn; equal to Germany’s 2017 GDP, and, arguably, they wield just as much influence.

However, Berners-Lee thinks that the speed of technology innovation could take care of the problem without intervention.

“Before breaking them up, we should see whether they are not just disrupted by a small player beating them out of the market, but by the market shifting, by the interest going somewhere else.”

Berners-Lee also said that he is “disappointed” with the current state of the internet, including personal data abuse and the use of social media to spread hate.

“If you put a drop of love into Twitter it seems to decay but if you put in a drop of hatred you feel it actually propagates much more strongly. And you wonder: ‘Well is that because of the way that Twitter as a medium has been built?'” he said. 

The Cambridge Analytica scandal, during which it came out that the company had obtained information on 87 million Facebook users, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back for many internet users.

“I am disappointed with the current state of the Web. We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment, and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked.

Berners-Lee proposed ‘Mesh’ in 1989, re-christening it the World Wide Web – which used a graphical interface (the web browser) to read pages and hyperlinks (URLs) to move between them – in 1990. µ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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