Berners-Lee slams Facebook over data openness

data privacy

Inventor of the web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, claims internet users should demand personal data back from the likes of Facebook and Google to make the information work for users instead of the companies that collected from them.

Berners-Lee said that social networks, such as Facebook and Google+ are exploiting data that could be better employed by the users themselves, such as using it to improve their health and diet.

One of the issues of social networking silos is that they have the data and I don't.

The web inventor said in an interview with the Guardian: "My computer has a great understanding of my state of fitness, of the things I'm eating, of the places I'm at. My phone understands from being in my pocket how much exercise I've been getting and how many stairs I've been walking up and so on."

He said Twitter and Facebook should be more open with data as this would be hugely beneficial to the users themselves. "One of the issues of social networking silos is that they have the data and I don't," he said.

"There are no programmes that I can run on my computer which allow me to use all the data in each of the social networking systems that I use plus all the data in my calendar plus in my running map site, plus the data in my little fitness gadget and so on to really provide an excellent support to me," Berners-Lee added.

Berners-Lee also lambasted government plans to snoop on internet users.

New legislation, expected in next month's Queens Speech, would allow GCHQ to access personal information "on demand" and this should be dropped.

"You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites or as an adolescent finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it," he said.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.