Send to

Tim Berners-Lee wins Seoul Peace Prize for promoting data sovereignty

Sept. 28, 2022 - 14:33 By Jo He-rim

World Wide Web Consortium Director Tim Berners-Lee (Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation)

World Wide Web Consortium Director Tim Berners-Lee won this year’s Seoul Peace Prize for his work promoting data sovereignty and leading the movement to “decentralize” the web dominated by tech giants.

The Seoul Peace Prize Cultural Foundation, headed by Yeom Jae-ho, made the announcement on Wednesday. According to the foundation, a selection committee consisting of eight members conducted a rigorous, objective and in-depth selection among many leader figures around the world who made contributions to promote various values, including human rights, democracy, international cooperation, anti-war, women and the environment.

The foundation said it chose Berners-Lee as the 16th laureate of the Seoul Peace Prize for his contributions to world peace through science technology.

With the belief that individuals should hold more power over their personal information in an online world ruled by tech giants, Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, kicked off an open source web decentralization project called Solid.

Berners-Lee also founded a company called Inrupt to change the web to the one that he “originally wanted.”

Berners-Lee is critical of the current digital world, seeing it as “damaged” by companies and governments’ invasive data harvesting. Tech giants who hold vast troves of their users’ online data have become surveillance platforms and gatekeepers of innovation, Berners-Lee claims.

His idea to guarantee greater power for individuals is reflected in his new system called “Pods,” which are like secure personal web servers for data. With Pods being a personal storage system for individuals, each person would be able to control their own data, such as credit card purchases and music stream history.

“I am honored to be awarded with the prestigious Seoul Peace Prize,” Berners-Lee said.

Berners-Lee will be presented with the award, a plaque and an honorarium of $200,000. The award ceremony will be held in Seoul this year, the foundation said.

Former recipients of the Seoul Peace Prize include International Olympic Committee Chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch, US Secretary of State George Pratt Shultz, the nonprofit organization Doctors Without Borders, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege and former UN Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki-moon.

By Jo He-rim (