Web inventor calls for online bill of rights

Tim Berners-Lee joins with W3C in seeking protection for online users

Tags: Cyber crime
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Web inventor calls for online bill of rights Berners-Lee: Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side. (Getty Images)
By  Stephen McBride Published  March 12, 2014

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web, today called for an Internet bill of rights to protect online freedoms such as speech and privacy, Reuters reported.

Speaking on the Web's official 25th birthday, Berners-Lee called for a charter similar to England's Magna Carta, that would enshrine basic rights for online users.

Berners-Lee's comments appeared to be a response to Edward Snowden's disclosure last year of US and UK government surveillance projects.

"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?" he asked on BBC Radio.

"Or 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?"

Berners-Lee accepted the need for powers to counter criminals online, but called for greater oversight of intelligence agencies such Britain's GCHQ and the US' NSA, and over other organisations that collect data on private individuals. He has also previously expressed support for NSA contractor Snowden, characterising his actions as "in the public interest".

Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the international body responsible for most technical best-practice standards on the Web, have started a campaign called "the Web We Want", that aims to get international support for an Internet bill of rights.

"Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it," Berners-Lee told the Guardian. "So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the Web back into our own hands and define the Web we want for the next 25 years."

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