Wikipedia co-founder and internet pioneer Larry Sanger, deeply dissatisfied with the state of affairs in the digital world, recently launched his initiative dubbed, a Declaration of Digital Independence.
In an interview for CNBC Sanger explained his motivations, heavily criticizing the current rulers of the digital space, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Referring to the situation on and around the internet today as “appalling,” Sanger said he was unconvinced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s pivot earlier this year to encryption and privacy.
He added that figures like Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley bigwigs wouldn’t have been able to invent the internet. According to Sanger, the reason is their fundamental misunderstanding of the original nature of the internet – as open and decentralized – and their need to control the space.
Sanger’s recently published declaration made damning accusations against Big Tech as collectors and exploiters of personal data as a way to make money, regardless of how this practice may violate their users’ privacy and security online.
“They can shape your experience, they can control what you see, when you see it and you become essentially a cog in their machine,” he told CNBC.
But Sanger is opposed to the idea of introducing more stringent government regulation, including of speech and content, noting that the interests of the government and of individual citizens are different, and that over-regulation could undermine competition even further.
Instead of a centralized and controlled internet, the Wikipedia co-founder – today CIO of blockchain encyclopedia Everipedia – sees decentralization as the answer to the problems the internet and its users are facing today.
The same basic idea can be found behind cryptocurrencies like BitCoin, that are not controlled by central banks – “but it has a long way to go before becoming mainstream,” the report observed.
On his blog, Sanger also called on users to go on a two-day digital strike on July 4 and 5 – especially those concerned about the state of the internet and supporting his declaration. He urged them to abstain from using social media networks as a form of protest.
CNBC also noted that another early internet pioneer, the inventor of the web himself, Tim Berners-Lee, last year expressed his concerns in his “Contract for the Web” – written in defense of a free and open internet, and calling for action towards achieving this goal.