Tim Berners-Lee hits out at PRISM

Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer scientist behind the World Wide Web, has described reports of the NSA's PRISM electronic spying system as "deeply concerning".

As reported by our sister title Cloud Pro, the programme allegedly gives US government National Security Agency (NSA) direct access to the servers of internet giants, including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Skype and Apple. However, the exact details of how much access the agency has are currently in dispute.

Unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens democratic society

The UK Government listening post GCHQ has also been implicated in the row, with Foreign Secretary William Hague due to give a statement to Parliament in response to allegations the organisation colluded with the NSA to gather information on British citizens collected through PRISM.

In a statement to the Financial Times, Berners-Lee said: "Unwarranted Government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society.

"Over the last two decades, the web has become an integral part of our lives. A trace of our use can reveal very intimate personal things. A store of this information about each person is a huge liability: Whom would you trust to decide when to access it, or even keep it secure?"

The Telegraph also reported Berners-Lee as painting a dystopian vision of the future that come about through programmes like PRISM.

"If you can control [the internet] ... or [intercept] communications, it's very, very powerful ... it's the sort of power that if you give it to a corrupt government, you give them the ability to stay in power forever," he warned.

Berners-Lee added that, while monopoly can slow innovation, this kind of Government intervention is a much greater threat than any one company having an online monopoly.

Jane McCallion
Managing Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialize in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.