World wide web creator calls for regulating tech giants

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, said in his annual letter on the occasion of the 29th  year of the world wide web, that more regulation may be needed for large technology companies.

 
Sir Tim Berners-Lee  

"The responsibility - and sometimes burden - of making these decisions falls on companies that have been built to maximise profit more than to maximise social good," Lee wrote in The Guardian. "A legal or regulatory framework that accounts for social objectives may help ease those tensions."

Speaking to the The Financial Times, Lee said that new laws could give people more control over the data held by social media companies about them.

"Certainly we could imagine that in a better world ... you would have a choice of search engine and a choice of social network to join," Lee told The Financial Times. "In a better world you'd have complete control over your information anyway."

Earlier, Microsoft founder Bill Gates had warned about impending government regulation for technology companies. "The companies need to be careful that they're not ... advocating things that would prevent government from being able to, under appropriate review, perform the type of functions that we've come to count on," Gates said in an interview with Axios last month.

Also Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said in an interview with CNN in November that social media companies may require further regulation.

"Do these companies need more regulation? They probably do," Benioff said.

In his letter, Lee severely criticised the huge platforms - by implication, Facebook and Google, among others - that have come to dominate their spheres and effectively become gatekeepers.

They "control which ideas and opinions are seen and shared," Lee wrote, and pointed out that they are able to impede competition by creating barriers.

"They acquire startup challengers, buy up new innovations and hire the industry's top talent. Add to this the competitive advantage that their user data gives them and we can expect the next 20 years to be far less innovative than the last."