Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that the misuse of data is having a chilling effect on free speech. File photo
Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that the misuse of data is having a chilling effect on free speech. File photo

Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee joins privacy powerhouse Proton

By Fast Company Time of article published Sep 9, 2021

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THE mere fact that you are reading this article online is due to one man’s work, more than 30 years ago. Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web and created the first web browser in 1989. And the rest, as they say, is history.

But though he is known as the inventor of the World Wide Web – arguably one of the most important inventions in human history – Berners-Lee hasn’t stopped contributing to the technology field since then. In recent years, his focus has shifted to policy and privacy, given which, his latest move comes as no surprise.

Berners-Lee has now joined the Proton board, as an adviser to the company’s executives on issues surrounding privacy. Proton, of course, is known for the wealth of privacy products it provides, including ProtonVPN and ProtonMail, a favourite of journalists and activists, due to its end-to-end encryption.

Announcing Berners-Lee’s new role, Proton chief executive Andy Yen said: “Proton was founded with a clear vision of building a better internet, one where users are empowered to choose how and with whom their data is shared. This vision is in line with Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s values. As Proton continues to grow at a remarkable rate, driven by global demand for products that deliver on privacy, we look forward to Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s input and advice, to realise our vision of an internet where privacy is the default.”

Tim Berners-Lee added, “I’m delighted to join Proton’s advisory board and support Proton on their journey. I am a firm supporter of privacy, and Proton’s values to give people control of their data are closely aligned to my vision of the web at its full potential.”

Proton itself has just hit a major milestone: 50 million people have signed up for ProtonMail and ProtonVPN worldwide. The privacy-focused company has also announced that it will have more than 500 employees, worldwide, by the end of this year. Not bad for a company founded only seven years ago.

Speaking of its founding – that’s where Proton and Sir Tim Berners-Lee have a historical connection. Proton was founded in 2014, by scientists who met at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). CERN just happens to be the organisation Sir Berners-Lee worked for when he first proposed his project in 1989, a project that would lead to the public internet we know today.

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