back to article Web Foundation launches internet hippie manifesto: 'We've lost control of our data, it is being used against us'

The Web Foundation is warning about the death of the web again, and urging people to come together to make the internet all nice and lovely. "The World Wide Web is under threat," a 19-page hippie manifesto [PDF] published by the pro-WWW group warned on Monday. "We've lost control of our personal data and that data is being …

  1. Chairman of the Bored


    An outstanding new noun that I shall plagiarize immediately. It seems to concisely summarize an accretion of futility.

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      Re: "Listsicle?"

      The Internet is full of people posting listicles, many of them need a kick in the listicles.

      The web is a bit like a child; you can guide it's education and create guidlines for its activities, but eventually it matures enough that it takes its own direction.

      At that stage you have no more control snd can only attempt to guide it.

  2. Oh Homer

    We already have the solution

    Two words: self hosting.

    The bigger problem is not that the internet is being censored, spied on and sold to spammers, but that users just passively accept this abuse, whine about it, but ultimately do nothing about it, even though there is a solution.

    They just don't like the fact that the solution requires them to make an effort, learn something new, and abandon existing commercial infrastructures, because their sheep mentality herds them towards what's "easy" and "popular", two considerations that are apparently more important to them than such trivia as free speech and privacy.

    Oh well, apathetic people get what they deserve.

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: We already have the solution

      Translation: "If everyone were more like me, there'd be no problem."

      That's not what we earthlings call a "solution".

      1. Nattrash

        Re: We already have the solution

        @ veti. Are sure that is what Oh Homer meant? As I read it, he is absolutely spot on. Even if you do the odd job for family and friends, you will know that they will take 3 days to come up with a password (after asking you 10 times whether a password is really necessary). They will go on a drinking spree when Microsoft decided to change their GUI. And buy a new Apple Phone because it comes with new exciting emojis. And that if you've spent some time in biz you know that this is the perfect "target audience" presenting an perfect "opportunity" to "maximise ROI"...

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: We already have the solution

      I still don't think anyone's put a Pi in a nice box and loaded it with an SD card with idiot-proof secure self-hosting software, and until that happens nothing's going to change.

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Paris Hilton

        Re: We already have the solution

        I'm sorry I lost you at "self hosting" what is that and how does it help?

      2. DropBear

        Re: We already have the solution

        Self...? Where? Considering I get a publicly visible IP about 10% of the time these days, and it's a different one each and every time I reconnect...

        1. Oh Homer

          Re: "different [IP] each and every time I reconnect..."

          Everything other than the ISP can be moved to self-hosting, and in certain areas of the developing world (and even in NYC, so I've heard) they've even circumvented that requirement via mesh networks, mostly out of sheer necessity due to the utter lack of commercial infrastructure.

          But if you're going to leave the last strand of the umbilical chord intact (the ISP) then just pay an extra ten quid a month for a static IP, or use a dynamic DNS hostname service like NOIP.

          In either case, you will have far greater control of your data, and thus there will be far less likelihood of it being "weaponised against you".

          Again, people need to consider what is more important to them, the "ease and popularity" of prostituting themselves to the likes of Google and Facebook, or the "hard work" of living independently in freedom.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: "different [IP] each and every time I reconnect..."

            Again, people need to consider what is more important to them, the "ease and popularity" of prostituting themselves to the likes of Google and Facebook, or the "hard work" of living independently in freedom.

            Any one want to bet on which will happen? People want "independence" but want someone else to do the hard work or pay for it. They will give away all their data so they can have online friends easily. We, El Reg readers, are not the target audience here. We know too much and are a minority.

    3. dajames

      Re: We already have the solution

      Two words: self hosting.

      That's only a thin slice of the solution. I have a website and I host it myself (or rather, I pay someone else to host it for me, but I think that's still what you mean by "self hosting"). That doesn't solve the problem.

      The first thing it doesn't solve is accessibility. If I want people -- people I don't know -- to be able to look at my hosted material then they have to be able to find it. This they can do by using a search engine ... but as soon as a search engine becomes part of the solution it isn't all "self hosting" any more; you (and your site's users) have to trust the search engine company, and the search engine company is in a position to monetize your data.

      The second thing is exclusivity. I may publish the things I want to publish on my own site -- and only on my own site -- but that doesn't stop other people from putting information about me (or other information I'd like to keep under my own control) on their sites ... and they may not be self-hosting, so that information may misused, monetized, and otherwise abused in all the ways you hope to prevent by self-hosting your own site.

      So, you're only partly right. Putting the information you wish to share on a website on a server over which you have some degree of control is certainly better than putting it on a bunch of pages on some social media site, but it doesn't give you all of the privacy or the control that one ought to be able to demand for one's online presence. Not nearly.

      ... but I don't think there is a solution, as such. There's no way that you can stop other people scraping a public website and correlating the data there with data from all the other websites in the world and making connections and drawing conclusions. Big Data analytics is getting to be scarily effective technology, and facial recognition of any photographs you post means that your un-named friends and family will be identified pretty quickly.

      The only solution that stands a chance is not to have an online presence at all, and to ask all your family and friends to refrain from posting about you, or posting your photograph, anywhere that they have a presence ... and even that doesn't have much of a chance.

  3. IceC0ld

    The 'good' old days

    when all we had to worry about was that pesky flaming from the IRC thingy that the damn kids had come up with, mind you, with access being in the 56kbps, we were LUCKY to have flames, I barely raised smoke :oP

    just re read this, and am now sitting waiting for the got wood remarks ffs, sometimes I go moist for the days of IRC

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: The 'good' old days

      I'm sure the good old days were when the whole Web run on Tim's Next machine only.

    2. Dave_uk

      Re: The 'good' old days

      > "...with access being in the 56kbps, we were LUCKY to have flames, I barely raised smoke :oP"

      YOU WERE LUCKY! All we had was 28Kbps, no smoke at that snail speed, when it stayed connected that is...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The 'good' old days

        Since we are reminiscing of the good old days, I remember when I was reading Usenet News on a terminal with a 9600 bps connection to a Unix-ish server. And it was plenty speedy as there were no ads (except from the September blues) and the killfiles took them out quickly. Just doing the kills and the selects and then pumping the space bar made it possible to drink straight from the fire hose. That is why I still find the link so handy.

  4. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man ..... and the Attractions Needed?

    There needs to be clear plan of attack, recognition of pain points for companies, a broad and well-organized campaign to engage and rally people.

    What more than Registering AI Pow Wowing is needed?

  5. RyokuMas Silver badge

    "There needs to be clear plan of attack, recognition of pain points for companies, a broad and well-organized campaign to engage and rally people."

    Apparently there was one... but Google made sure it appeared on page 4 of their search results, so nobody read it...

  6. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Nice example of trolling

    ... and a clear demonstration of what it's wrong with the Net: people.

    1. DropBear

      Re: Nice example of trolling

      So your point is that humans aren't perfect... ? And that everything they create necessarily reflects their nature? So, what - should we just voluntarily refrain from such frivolities like "going online" until we manage to ascend as luminous beings of pure energy and enlightenment...? Or should we just forget even thinking about how the web could be made better because it's all pointless anyway? Is that it...?

      Yeah, this "manifesto" isn't exactly a giant leap for mankind towards a better web, for sure; I fully concede that angle. And it's not like anyone ever asked the hare if it has any objections against being the dinner tonight, true. Perhaps the internet does indeed have a snowflake's chance in hell to ever be what it was supposed to be when it was imagined; but that won't make me stop listening for any ideas of what could be done or trying to apply any sensible ones - just because we're all fucked anyway*.

      * Duh, of course we are. That doesn't mean we can't go to hell with some panache...

      1. JohnFen

        Re: Nice example of trolling

        "Perhaps the internet does indeed have a snowflake's chance in hell to ever be what it was supposed to be when it was imagined;"

        The internet is fine. The web is what's endangered.

  7. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    so whats the problem?

    I for one am glad the inter webs make money from my data. I've got loads of it , and i can make more with little to no effort.

    Imagine if they wanted my cash instead!

  8. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    "As a young physicist at CERN, Sir Tim saw that valuable information was being trapped within institutions… Sir Tim gave the technology of the web to the world for free."

    Wasn't it CERN paying his salary? So CERN gave it away for free, just like the actual TCP/IP protocol comes from DARPA.

  9. Fading

    Or how about.....

    We make our own internet with blackjack and hookers......


    1. Teiwaz

      Re: Or how about.....

      We make our own internet without blackjack and hookers......

      Is, I think more applicable.

      1. JohnFen

        Re: Or how about.....

        An internet without blackjack and hookers isn't an internet I would want to use.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Or how about.....

          dammit i was about to do the blackjack & hookers joke :(

          screw you guys....

          I'm gonna make my own joke....

  10. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    el reg biting the hand...

    1. Ian Joyner Bronze badge

      "el reg biting the hand..."

      I just wonder which hand is feeding reg?

      This seems a very poor piece of journalism aimed at those who are trying to protect the Internet from very powerful and dangerous concerns. I just really wonder why this Register piece was written at all?

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Dave559 Silver badge

      Re: Shame on you.

      I’m not sure I’ll say “Shame on you”, but that did seem a rather unreasonably ranty article (no, I am not new here), without really offering much in the way of any alternative solutions instead.

      In that context, would mentioning, the Mastodon distributed social network (and various other useful ground-upwards things that I haven’t yet heard of) as possible ways out of the quagmire not perhaps have been helpful, at least?

      (And, yes, I do miss usenet (I know it still exists, but it is in long term decline), but while for a time the fact that you needed the smarts to manage a score file meant that those who knew could maintain a good signal:noise ratio, that level of complexity did make it unsuitable for a wider non-techie audience as internet growth increased.)

  12. steviebuk Silver badge

    Bring back...

    ..Geocities. That will solve all worlds problems.

    And Hotdog for creating the web pages.

    I can't believe even my old 386sx couldn't cope with Hotdog :o(

  13. Dave_uk


    +1 for knowing that Geocities was not just a new computer game! I must say tripod.Lycos was better.

    1. brym

      Yeah, but Tripod before Lycos was better.

  14. Primus Secundus Tertius

    Same as TV

    But did not the same thing happen to TV?

    People should not be allowed to post fake news unless they are wearing a penguin suit.

    1. JohnFen

      Re: Same as TV

      "But did not the same thing happen to TV?"

      Not really. Aside from the fact that TV and the web are not even remotely comparable media, pretty much all of television's problems were there from the very beginning.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Same as TV

      You mean the radio, I guess....

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You should rather quote Pixiefuel's manifesto. It has far more zest and moxie.

    After all the rage of a nostalgic 16 year old cannot be surpassed.

  16. Chris G Silver badge

    The government should do something!

    And that something will involve Blockchain AIs with algorithms done by people who can write code.

    So everyone can relax and stop worrying now!

  17. JohnFen

    That was the moment

    "especially after Sir Tim stared down a claim on his noblesse oblige when he gave the thumbs-up to including digital rights management as a web standard."

    That was the moment when I came to the conclusion that the web was irretrievably lost. TBL's mouth noises now seem far too late at best, and disingenuous at worst.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: That was the moment

      I think DRM is pretty low in the list of problems right now, and perhaps might be another symptom of everyone expecting everything to be free and available.

      This is also Google's problem, but the other way.

      1. JohnFen

        Re: That was the moment

        The reason I considered that a bellwether wasn't because I object to the inclusion of DRM in the standard (although I do). It was because of how it came about -- pushed through by Microsoft, Google, and Netflix -- with the indispensable assistance of TBL -- over the objections of the majority of the other stakeholders. When major corporations get to shove stuff (and especially poorly designed stuff argued for by lying) in the web standard based solely on their power as major corporations, the people have largely already lost.

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