Tim Berners-Lee slams government's snooping plans


Tim Berners-Lee has expressed his concern about the government's Investigatory Powers Bill, which includes an enhanced Snoopers Charter, allowing powers to track everyone's web and social media use.

Although the government is claiming this new bill will help keep "you and your family safe" and enhance the "ability of our intelligence agencies to target the online communications of terrorists," Berners-Lee thinks it will be detrimental to society and is urging the UK population to fight back.

"The discussion of increased monitoring powers is something which is a red flagthis discussion is a global one, it's a big one, it's something that people are very engaged with, they think it's very important, and they're right, because it is very important for democracy, and it's very important for business," he told the Guardian before the Web We Want Festival in London's Southbank Centre.

"So this sort of debate is something that should be allowed to happen around legislation. It's really important that legislation is left out for a seriously long comment period," he continued.

He explained that although people in the US have been brought up on surveillance, the UK population isn't as prepared for such snooping. Additionally, the hype around Edward Snowden has triggered some mistrust in governmental surveillance schemes.

"It has lost a lot of that moral high ground, when people saw that GCHQ was doing things that even the Americans weren't. So now I think, if Britain is going to establish a leadership situation, it's going to need to say: We have solid rules of privacy, which you as an individual can be assured of, and that you as a company can be assured of,'" he said.

Berner-Lee, an advocate of the free internet and net neutrality, also said we should object to branded internet services, such as Facebook's internet.org.

"In the particular case of somebody who's offeringsomething which is branded internet, it's not internet, then you just say no. No it isn't free, no it isn't in the public domain, there are other ways of reducing the price of internet connectivity and giving something [only] giving people data connectivity to part of the network deliberately, I think is a step backwards."

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.