The internet is “not working for women” and is fuelling a new era of widespread abuse against females, the creator of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, warned on Thursday.

In a bleak assessment published on the World Wide Web Foundation, an organisation founded by Berners-Lee that advocates a free and open web for all, he also argued that a “dangerous trend” of abuse threatens any advances in gender equality.

“The web is not working for women and girls,” he wrote.

“The world has made important progress on gender equality thanks to the unceasing drive of committed champions everywhere.

“But I am seriously concerned that online harms facing women and girls — especially those of colour, from LGBTQ+ communities and other marginalised groups — threaten that progress.” The abuse was so extensive that “over half of young women surveyed have experienced violence online”, said Berners-Lee, citing a survey from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

The world-famous computer engineer also highlighted that discrimination was being further fuelled as many women could not get access to the internet.

Citing the foundation’s own research, he said men were 21pc more likely to be online, rising to 52pc in the world’s least developed countries.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2020

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