Tim Berners-Lee: we must regulate tech firms to prevent 'weaponised' web



I like that Tim highlights incentives here: profit versus social good

If we could have an overall incentive for businesses that includes social good, regulating different sectors would be so much simpler, and companies would be much freer to innovate and create.

Failing that I think size is important, because businesses lose incentive towards social goods as they get bigger. This is what’s behind ‘think local’ and ‘small is beautiful’, and is one of the attractions of decentralisation of course.

One reason small is beautiful in business, is that small businesses are more likely to have a stake in a community, so their interests align. They are more likely to understand the people they serve, employ, and the people connected through these groups, as well as other businesses. Many different entities together forming an ecosystem where the good of individuals, businesses and the whole are closely aligned. Contrast that with a very large business for whom this small community is not significant, which thinks mainly in terms of much bigger issues and overall profitability, and you have an empathy gap that allows that business to treat such communities as business assets from which value can be extracted, while creating harm to individuals and society as a whole. It is actually very hard for such businesses to behave differently, because of the incentives created for them by the existing business and regulatory frameworks.

In the absence of clever regulation that can incentivise social good, I think that decentralised ownership and control of data, SAFE Network and project Solid for example, can push us firmly towards smaller more accountable business.

So I’ve moved this from off-topic to marketing. I think Tim’s views here, and more generally on decentralised ownership and control of data are very relevant to this project.

I’m still trying to understand how Tim and his team view this, but he believes that there are investors who see this as an opportunity, much like the early Web, and will be early investors who will fund application development and fund new business models.

I think that’s optimistic, but also credible - because as influencers and policy makers look for solutions to the underlying problems being caused by very large Internet businesses, his and our part is to ensure that solutions are available which can demonstrate there is a better approach. This can be a powerful route to adoption, and we already have an example of this in the GDPR which Tim also sees as a driver for the Solid/SAFE Network approach (note MaidSafe’s recent partnership with Identillect which is directed towards opportunities created by the GDPR). :slight_smile:


This was good quote in the article, “Berners-Lee has always maintained that his creation was a reflection of humanity – the good, the bad and the ugly. However, his vision to create an “open platform that allows anyone to share information, access opportunities and collaborate across geographical boundaries” has been challenged as the web has become more centralised.” Wouldn’t it be nice if Tim Bernes-Lee could partner and promote SAFE-network when near beta and launch.


Partner… maybe not. But on launch, he would absolutely comment on the SAFENet for the press.

Edit: His project is sponsored by mastercard, am surprised there is no coin associated with his project.
Could be a betamax VHS thing…


Yes he will say something along the line of this platform facilitating “nasty mean ideas”

If you want to split this community right down the middle, get Tech-Left Tim on-board.

Ruling Internet Class

One of the newer members of the Internet Censorship Bureau, Sir Tim believes the internet needs to be regulated to silence our “nasty, mean ideas.”

Also says that “[W]e actually have to not leave people to make whatever social networks they like,” (hear that Gab.ai?).

Pushes his internet regulation and censorship gospel globally thanks to millions in Google cash laundered through his World Wide Web Foundation.


Oh oh… 20 Characters


AFAIK Tim’s views on censorship are very much aligned with SAFEnetwork.

For example, this is from a link contained in the article you linked/quoted:

Berners-Lee, who has previously criticized state-sponsored eavesdropping as well as censorship, said he had given humanity “an open Internet to play with” in the hope that they would use it in a positive manner.

“We have tried to keep it open, we kept it royalty-free. We have kept it open in the sense of no censorship. On a good day, in a good country, we keep it free of spying.”


He will never come out directly and support this project, would have done so already.

When he does a John Lennon and hands back his knighthood, as a protest over the snoopers charter…he has my attention.

Does not OP title not say it all, is Maidsafe not a tech firm. Once you start regulating one thing, it’s a slippery slope.


No the title is the title, it does not justify your opinions, and the logical conclusion of your statement here is that nothing should be regulated.

If you feel people who believe regulation should not be welcome here I think we’d have a very small community.


Sorry, once you start attacking the messenger, you’ve lost me.


Regulation destroys free markets in 4 distinct phases:

  1. CONSOLIDATION - The regulators consolidate their power by making regulations that are popular. Sometimes they make regulations that the free market is already doing and then take credit for them. They use input from the biggest industry players to create regulations that the big firms are already doing. So the big firms are barely inconvenienced by the regulations, but the small firms have large compliance expenses. The goal here is to consolidate power and give the bigger firms an advantage.

  2. BULLYING - After power is consolidated, the regulators start playing favorites. They decide who the winners and losers are in the regulated industry. They start making regulations that are inconvenient and annoying, but they are powerful enough to silence dissent now. Free market innovations that do not please the regulators are squelched. Operating outside of the regulation is not allowed.

  3. MONOPOLIZATION - The regulated industry loses competitors and only a few big firms that have access to the government are allowed to survive. All of the smaller firms are driven out. Regulators can now shut down any firm and have absolute power. Barriers to entry are created to exclude new competition.

  4. NATIONALIZATION - The government now formally or informally combines with the few remaining industry firms. The industry leaders are just puppets now, the government can exert control from behind the scenes whenever they wish. The free market structure of the industry has been wiped out.

It’s important to remember that regulation and law are different. Laws are passed by congress, which is elected. Ideally, laws are debated publicly and apply to everyone equally. Regulations are created by bureaucrats who are not elected and usually cannot be fired. This eliminates the accountability and transparency of the regulatory process.


While I do agree in principle and support a free market, the thing is, laws and regulations are currently not passed in a vacuum. While I personally am against “all kinds of regulation” on a general level, I still see e.g. regulating to guarantee net neutrality as a good thing. This is because there already are laws in place that give existing companies too much power over society. The free market has already been destroyed. This is a global problem, so I’m not talking about the US specifically. If no monopolies existed, the situation would be different. But since we already have laws that guarantee strong positions for internet access providers, it makes sense to regulate what these companies are allowed to do. At least for as long as the laws guaranteeing their positions are in place.

Being categorically against all regulation doesn’t make sense if one at the same time wants to keep already existing laws and regulations in place. That would just mean one supports the status quo and opposes change, which, by the way, is what the word “conservative” usually means.

On a lighter note, I would like to quote a song by Dob Dylan.

Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want everybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I’m crazy!
I wouldn’t let him do it for all the farms in Cuba

  • Bob Dylan
    (From "I shall be free No. 10)


I don’t think we need this debate on free market ideology. We’ve had it before, several times. By all means debate it, and link to that from here, but we don’t need yet another topic for it IMO.

I suggest instead we use this topic to looking into what Tim is talking about specify wrt regulation, or specific proposals being made to regulate Google et al, maybe even GDPR (though I think that deserves is own topic) but debating ‘free markets’ belongs elsewhere really. Its more ideology that debate.


Thanks for the link to the article. A few good reads in the linked docs and rather interesting/informative with regard to TBL’s thoughts, and yours. That being said, Solon’s bias/subjectivity/slant was rather apparent so that might be why some readers here were left with a bad aftertaste if they didn’t dig deeper. I agree this thread would be more productive without the debates.


Are you saying the solution to the problem of too much regulation is more regulation?

If we can’t repeal the regulation that is already there, at least we can avoid adding more regulation to an already existing problem.

These big companies that you want to regulate, they are the ones that write all the regulations. (That fact is cleverly hidden from the public.) That’s how they got to be big in the first place. They then use these regulations to exclude competition. The more regulations you have, the worse the problem gets.


People don’t seem to want this debate here, and it really is off-topic. But if you want to open a new topic in Off-topic, I just may find the time and energy to reply there.