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Web creator wants internet Magna Carta to protect freedoms

James Temperton
29 Sep 2014
Sir Tim Berners-Lee
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An internet bill of rights is needed to stop governments and corporations from taking control of the web

The inventor of the world wide web has warned that internet freedom is under ever greater threat from governments and big business as the powerful wrestle for control of the web. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who created the web 25 years ago, said that a new bill of rights should be created to ensure that people's privacy is protected online.

The British computer scientist called for an online version of the Magna Carta, the 13th century English charter widely regarded as ensuring basic rights and freedoms.

"If a company can control your access to the internet, if they can control which websites they go to, then they have tremendous control over your life," he said at the Web We Want event in London.

Berners-Lee has become increasingly outspoken in the wake of shocking revelations of mass government surveillance. Documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden showed how security agencies in the USA and UK are able to spy on just about anything we do online.

He said that privacy and the ability to access uncensored information was under threat and said that new measures needed to be taken to protect the open internet. It is also important to keep the internet "neutral" by reflecting all of humanity, even the "ghastly stuff", he added.

"If a government can block you going to, for example, the opposition's political pages, then they can give you a blinkered view of reality to keep themselves in power.

"Suddenly the power to abuse the open internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies."

"There have been lots of times that it has been abused, so now the Magna Carta is about saying...I want a web where I'm not spied on, where there's no censorship," Berners-Lee said.

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