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Photo illustration: Annelise Capossela. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Tim Berners-Lee, the computer scientist who first sketched out the design of the World Wide Web in the 1980s, is celebrating his offspring's 32nd birthday with a call to bring online the one-third of global youth who lack internet access.

Why it matters: Berners-Lee told Axios he expects that somewhere among those young people there's likely to be someone who will create something as world-changing as he did.

  • "Hopefully there will be a cohort of young people who realize that the world does not have to be the way it is," he said — and that they themselves can improve on the problematic global network they've inherited.

In an open letter, Berners-Lee and Rosemary Leith, co-founders of the World Wide Web Foundation, spotlighted the work of nine young people who have used the web to improve the world. They include:

  • Hera Hussain, founder of Chayn, a volunteer community for survivors of gender-based violence.
  • Avi Schiffman, a high-schooler who created a widely used web resource for tracking COVID-19 statistics.
  • Arda Awais and Savena Surana, creators of Identity 2.0, an art project exploring digital identity.
  • Peter Okwoko, founder of Takataka Plastics, a social enterprise which recycles plastic waste into usable products.
  • The Web Foundation is asking people to share names of other young "Web champions."

By the numbers: Berners-Lee and Leith argue that the cost of bringing the "rest of the world" online — estimated at $428 billion over 10 years, or $116 per person for 3.7 billion people — would "deliver incredible returns in the form of economic growth and social empowerment."

  • Berners-Lee told Axios: "There was a time when we needed to do this with electricity, and now we have electricity pretty much anywhere — there's electricity wires all over the place. It is not rocket science. We know how to do it. People deserve to be online -- it's a human rights thing."

Yes, but: The letter also notes that just bringing people online isn't enough when so much of the internet remains hostile ground, and asks, "How many voices of would-be leaders are being silenced by a toxic internet?"

  • One answer to that toxicity, Berners-Lee says, is for young people to experiment with new kinds of social networks designed differently from the ones they find on today's internet.

Go deeper

44 mins ago - Health

DeSantis to bar Florida schools from mandating masks

Photo: Michael Reaves via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said Friday he will issue an executive order "very soon" barring local school districts from requiring students to wear masks when they return to school next month, NBC News reports.

Why it matters: The spread of the Delta variant has led to a spike in new infections across the U.S., triggering another round of debate about COVID guidelines in schools.

Trump's tax returns must be released to Congress, DOJ says

President Trump at the end of a rally to support Republican Senate candidates at Valdosta Regional Airport in Valdosta, Georgia on December 5, 2020. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP

The Treasury Department "must" release former President Trump's tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee, the Department of Justice said in a memo Friday.

The big picture: The DOJ memo comes after a long dispute between the committee, which first sought to obtain the former president's returns two years ago, and Trump, who fought to keep his finances private.

CDC: Delta variant may cause mild COVID among fully vaccinated people

A storefront sign in Los Angeles reminds people masks are for everyone. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

About 74% of 469 COVID-19 cases associated with large gatherings held in Barnstable County, Mass., from July 3 to 17 were among fully vaccinated people, according to data released Friday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Why it matters: The data bolsters emerging evidence that vaccinated people have high viral loads and may transmit the Delta variant as easily as those who are unvaccinated.