In recent days – here at Semantic Web Company – we have had a lot of discussions on how the future of the Semantic Web (name it Web3.0 if you like) will develop. Several stakeholders on the future of the Semantic Web see already, that also a potential danger will come along with the technical realisation of the web3.0: This is the present possibility to create applications and mashups with semantic technologies that are a real drain on privacy and information ethics. Without an underpinning discussion about the ethical framework within technolgies like linked data, text-mining, biometric-systems and geo-systems in combination with the web of data, the whole domain is in danger to be doomed like genetic engineering some years ago.
It’s crucial for the public opinion on the Semantic Web, to adress the immanent risks regarding privacy and ethics. In this context I’ll see also Tim Berners-Lee‘s statement yesterday: “W3C wants to help make sure data use is appropriate,” he said. Berners-Lee, who is director of W3C, said in an interview on Wednesday that the teams working on the Semantic Web project are making sure that privacy principles are included in its architecture: “The Semantic Web project is developing systems which will answer where data came from and where it’s going to — the system will be architectured for a set of appropriate uses.”
Maybe it’s an important step in keeping the further development of Semantic Web trusty in the eyes of public opinion, that the W3C has privacy and information ethics on their agenda and persons like Berners-Lee stand with their reputation for it. But it is also crucial to build this awareness on the corporate side. Only if everyone within the domain follows a common ethic understanding we have a public opinion, which is on the future potential of the Semantic Web, and not in fear of the same.