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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

Updated 5 hours ago - World

Death toll mounts as fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies

Palestinian Muslims exchange wishes for Eid al-Fitr, marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan, near a razed building in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia, on May 13. Photo: Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

At least 109 Palestinians and seven people in Israel have been killed since recent fighting between Israel's military and Hamas began Monday.

The big picture: Israel began massing troops on its border with Gaza on Thursday, launching attacks from the air and ground as Hamas continued to fire rockets into Israel.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.

Democrats open to user fees for infrastructure deal

President Biden sits Thursday with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) as they discuss his $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal. Photo: T.J. Kirkpatrick/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some Senate Democrats are open to paying for a compromise infrastructure package by imposing user fees, including increasing the gas tax and raising money from electric car drivers through a vehicle-miles-traveled charge.

Why it matters: By inching toward the Republican position on pay-fors, some Democrats are bucking President Biden's push to offset his proposed $2.3 trillion plan by focusing only on raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy.