Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

"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," Berners-Lee said. "There is a danger of concentration." (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

No Other Choice, Says Web Pioneer Tim Berners-Lee: Tech Giants Like Google and Facebook Must Be Broken Up

"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."

Jake Johnson

Expressing dismay that the World Wide Web he invented in 1989 has come to be overrun with hatred and controlled by a few giant tech companies who abuse user privacy to boost their bottom lines, Tim Berners-Lee argued in an interview with Reuters on Thursday that Silicon Valley titans like Facebook, Google, and Apple as well as corporate behemoths like Amazon should be broken up to allow more democratic alternatives to flourish.

"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."
—Tim Berners-Lee
"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," Berners-Lee said. "There is a danger of concentration."

The man credited as being the father of the worldwide web—which officially turned 29 in March of this year—went on to argue that corporate control of the internet has strangled innovation, allowing a small number of massive companies to seize control of the web for their own profit-driven purposes.

However, Berners-Lee expressed hope that tech giants could be "disrupted by a small player beating them out of the market" or by "interest going somewhere else."

"I am disappointed with the current state of the web," Berners-Lee concluded, noting that social media platforms like Twitter have become vehicles for propagating hate and lies rather than places of genuine human interaction. "We have lost the feeling of individual empowerment and to a certain extent also I think the optimism has cracked."

Berners-Lee's call for tech giants to be cut down to size comes amid a growing congressional push for an "Internet Bill of Rights," which would expand access to the internet, enshrine strong net neutrality rules, prevent mass data collection by tech giants, and restore essential privacy protections that have been systematically eroded by giant corporations.

"As our lives and the U.S. economy are more tied to the internet, it is essential to provide Americans with basic protections online."
—Rep. Ro Khanna
"The internet age and digital revolution have changed Americans' way of life," reads a list of web principles written by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who has led the effort to develop an Internet Bill of Rights with the help of Berners-Lee and progressive tech think-tanks. "As our lives and the U.S. economy are more tied to the internet, it is essential to provide Americans with basic protections online."

Contributing to the growth of alternative web platforms that enhance rather than invade privacy and restore individual agency on the internet, Berners-Lee in September announced the launch of Solid, "an open-source project to restore the power and agency of individuals on the web."

"Today, I believe we've reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible—and necessary," Berners-Lee wrote in a Medium post. "Solid is a platform, built using the existing web. It gives every user a choice about where data is stored, which specific people and groups can access select elements, and which apps you use. It allows you, your family and colleagues, to link and share data with anyone. It allows people to look at the same data with different apps at the same time."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

"I'm sure this will be all over the corporate media, right?"
That’s what one longtime Common Dreams reader said yesterday after the newsroom reported on new research showing how corporate price gouging surged to a nearly 70-year high in 2021. While major broadcasters, newspapers, and other outlets continue to carry water for their corporate advertisers when they report on issues like inflation, economic inequality, and the climate emergency, our independence empowers us to provide you stories and perspectives that powerful interests don’t want you to have. But this independence is only possible because of support from readers like you. You make the difference. If our support dries up, so will we. Our crucial Mid-Year Campaign is now underway and we are in emergency mode to make sure we raise the necessary funds so that every day we can bring you the stories that corporate, for-profit outlets ignore and neglect. Please, if you can, support Common Dreams today.

 

Pointing to 'Recently Obtained Evidence,' Jan. 6 Panel Calls Surprise Tuesday Hearing

The announcement came less than a week after the House panel delayed new hearings until next month, citing a "deluge" of fresh evidence.

Common Dreams staff ·


Looming US Supreme Court Climate Decision Could 'Doom' Hope for Livable Future

"The immediate issue is the limits of the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases," said one scientist. "The broader issue is the ability of federal agencies to regulate anything at all."

Jessica Corbett ·


Supreme Court Takes 'Wrecking Ball' to Separation of Church and State With Prayer Ruling

After decades of affirming that prayers led by school officials are unconstitutional, said Justice Sonia Sotomayor, "the court now charts a different path."

Julia Conley ·


Louisiana Judge Blocks State's Post-Roe Abortion Ban

"Abortion care will resume in the state and a hearing has been set for July 8th," said the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Jake Johnson ·


Progressives Launch 'Four More' Campaign to Demand Supreme Court Expansion

"In a true democracy, power rests with the people," one campaigner asserted. "And the only way to take our power back is to take back the court."

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo