Sir Tim Berners-Lee: World wide web needs bill of rights

 

Sir Tim Berners-Lee wants more rights for users of the web

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The inventor of the world wide web has marked the 25th anniversary of his creation by calling for a 'Magna Carta' bill of rights to protect its users.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC Breakfast the issue could be compared to the importance of human rights.

He has been an outspoken critic of government surveillance following a series of leaks from ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

Sir Tim called on people to take action and protest against surveillance.

'Communal decision'

He told BBC Breakfast the online community has now reached a crossroads.

"It's time for us to make a big communal decision," he said. "In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go?

"Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance?

"Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it's so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?"

A 1992 copy of the world's first web page Looking at the world's first web page shows how much has changed online
The NeXT cube, the original machine on which Sir Tim Berners-Lee designed the world wide web The NeXT cube machine on which Sir Tim designed the world wide web
Sir Tim Berners-Lee Sir Tim took part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games

Sir Tim said the internet should be a "neutral" medium that can be used without feeling "somebody's looking over our shoulder".

He called for vigilance against surveillance by its users, adding: "The people of the world have to be constantly aware, constantly looking out for it - constantly making sure through action, protest, that it doesn't happen."

Sir Tim has previously warned that surveillance could threaten the democratic nature of the web.

He has also spoken out in support of Mr Snowden, saying his actions were "in the public interest".

Browser favourites

  • The BBC website and Facebook are the UK's most popular sites, according to a survey of 2,001 adults
  • The poll for internet registry firm Nominet, found 24% of people chose Facebook as their favourite website
  • The BBC was second, with 20% choosing the site
  • Amazon was third with 9%
  • Gmail and Yahoo were both chosen by 5% of those polled

Source: Nominet

The idea that the world wide web would end up playing such a huge role in people's lives would have seemed "crazy" 25 years ago, said Sir Tim.

He admitted that the web represented "humanity connected", involving both the "wonderful" and the "ghastly".

But he added: "I don't have a lot of sympathy with people who say: 'There's so much rubbish on the web.'

"Well, if there's so much rubbish, if it's rubbish, don't read it. Go read something else."

The web we want campaign has been set up by Sir Tim's World Wide Web Foundation to coincide with the 25th anniversary and aims to protect human rights online.

 

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  • rate this
    -69

    Comment number 105.

    I like government surveillance of the internet. I never do anything illegal, and don't really care if the government sees what I do on it.

    Their watchfulness makes me feel safer, and could stop terrorist attacks/criminal activity.

  • rate this
    -51

    Comment number 19.

    You only need protection from government is you are a seriously dangerous criminal. I'd rather allow a government operative to sniff my data-trail than get blown up by some preventable terrorism incident. Similarly regarding a DNA database. People should stop using their feelings and start using their brains.

  • rate this
    -50

    Comment number 14.

    First of all, talking about "(putting) in place a bunch of values" is a sure sign that Sir Tim has no idea what values are. In the second place, equating the world wide web with freedom from torture, starvation or illiteracy is an insult to those who have real injustices to bear. He should be ashamed of himself

  • rate this
    -45

    Comment number 104.

    Just because you invent something, it does not mean you have the power to decide how it should be regulated. We need more surveillance, not less. We need to reverse the trend where people can say what they like on the internet with no consequence.

  • rate this
    -28

    Comment number 32.

    Why can't we have the guy who invented the wheel on telly demanding rights for tyres ? Was he British ?

 

Comments 5 of 531

 

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