Complex Made Simple

Graphic: The (Not So) World Wide Web turns 30; how free is it?

British scientist Tim Berners-Lee's initial idea that formed the internet 30 years ago was based on free knowledge exchange. How free is the internet today?

Only about half the world's population is online Among those online, most feel a lack of freedom Most people around the world lack a basic access to the knowledge they need

Precisely 30 years ago – March 12, 1989 – a British engineer and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee submitted a pathbreaking proposal for a free, open platform where people across the globe could interact and exchange knowledge and ideas without any permissions. This novel idea grew into what we now know as the World Wide Web.

Although this idea was initially intended for the scientific community, primarily those working at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), Berners-Lee's proposal "Information Management: A Proposal" went on to create more than just the "networked hypertext system" he initially imagined.

30 years down the line, although the "internet" has gone public, barely half of the world's population uses it.


Source: Compiled and designed by invesp

More disconcerting, however, is that among the people who are connected and "online", a majority of people feel a lack of "freedom". They feel that their rights, freedoms are not protected. The percentage of people who consider the internet "not free" or "partially free" far outweighs the number of people who consider themselves "free".


Certain parts of the globe such as the U.S., Canada, and Europe have come to view the internet as a necessity, similar to electricity or running water. However, there are those around the world who still lack basic access to important sources of information.


Source: Compiled and designed by invesp

The fight for the right to access accurate information has, therefore, become one of the greatest and most important battles of our day and age.