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Rightly, Champions of Data, is an independent consumer data action service committed to championing consumer rights and helping people police, control and manage their personal data held by organisations.
On Monday we celebrated ‘World Wide Web’ Day, a global celebration dedicated to web browsing – the online activity that brings the whole world to your fingertips and places a wealth of knowledge at your feet.
How did it all start
The invention of the World Wide Web is credited to an English software engineer named Tim Berners-Lee. The son of parents who were among the very first computer scientists, Berners-Lee was working at CERN — a particle physics laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland in the 1980s —when he became frustrated by the fact that information on computers was hard to share. Plus, the information was often in different computer languages. There had to be a better way.
Since the internet allowed computers to be connected, Berner-Lee’s idea was to use hypertext as a common platform: Click on one thing and you instantly jump to another — and so on, and so on. In 1990, he created three other pieces of technology that are the foundation of today’s Web. Berners-Lee’s idea was to make information available as pages, written in a shared language called Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). This eventually became the World Wide Web, which is today the platform used by billions of internet users around the world.
The web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.
On 30 April 1993, CERN put the World Wide Web software in the public domain. However, when the World Wide Web did reach the public, it wasn’t an instant hit. At that time, it was merely a luxury, but today it’s a necessity, as important as other services coming into homes and workplaces.
The popularity of the platform took off when the first website was produced, and photos started appearing on the web. The first photo was uploaded by Berners-Lee in 1992.
Since then, there has been no stopping the World Wide Web and it proved to be the fastest-growing medium of communication by accumulating millions of active users by the mid-1990s. But this was just the beginning. By the 21st century, web usage transcended into advanced smartphones that operated like computers. The rest is history!
Berner-Lee’s development solved the communication problem for the siloed scientists—and changed human existence as we know it. Today, e-commerce generates $1.2 million every 30 seconds. 4.3 billion people, more than half the world’s population, use the web every day.
Why celebrate WWW Day
Essentially because without the web, the Earth would be a super lonely place. Before the World Wide Web (WWW) was created, people had to spend a lot of money to contact someone far away. Today, voice calls, chats, and video calls are available at the click of a button. This is just one of the advantages WWW brought to the world. It also made it easy to search for information, access songs, find news online, and do thousands of other things that have empowered the world today.
Reasons to be cautious
Today, Web usage certainly comes with its challenges. Some of these disadvantages are:
- We’ve lost control of our data. The current business model for many websites offers free content in exchange for personal data. Your data then gets shared or sold and sometimes stolen so it ends up in the hands of people who shouldn’t have it
- Fake News and the spread of illegal and unethical material – It’s easy for misinformation to spread on the web
- Political advertising online needs transparency and understanding. Foriegn powers have been seen to try and influence elections
- Increased usage is leading to addiction, wasting time, and causing distractions
- Online bullying, trolls, stalkers, and crime is on the increase
- Spam, phishing, and advertising are rife
- Pornographic and violent images are prevalent and available for young people to see
- It’s leading to a pandemic where we are never able to disconnect from work
- Identity theft, hacking, viruses, and cheating in on the increase
- Patterns of use are showing it affects focus and patience
- There is a real concern about security threats
- Usage is leading to isolation and health problems
- Virus and hacking attacks are rife
- Lastly, arguably it’s not a safe place for Children.
Celebrate WWW Day with Rightly and prevent digital harm
As we celebrate ‘World Wide Web’ Day, it’s worth underlining the fact that although the Web has changed our lives for the better it has also exposed us to digital harm and financial loss like never before.
Today our personal information and data are constantly being gathered without our knowledge and then sold to companies who go on to target us. If consumers truly knew the potential repercussions, from being scammed out of thousands of pounds to having their private and personal information shared online, there would likely be greater cause for concern.
By understanding who has your data and what information they hold, consumers can take back control and prevent their data from being exposed rather than scrambling to fix the mess once a breach inevitably happens.
To avoid harm from the data we share, consumers must be more vigilant about what they are giving away to avoid future digital harm. It’s never too late to find out who has your data and request its deletion to protect yourself. Opting out of marketing communications or removing your details from as many databases as possible is a quick fix with a big impact.
The only effective way to prevent scams is to take back control of your data. The best way to do this is to use Righty Protect, a free service designed to help consumers detox their inboxes. Consumers can identify which companies hold their data and can subsequently send a data deletion request to some or all those companies with a single click, and for free.
The fewer companies hold your data the less chance your data will be breached, shared, and sold without your knowledge or agreement – which could ultimately lead to financial loss and your privacy being compromised.
On a larger scale, there needs to be greater attention from governments to do more to protect our data privacy.