My lords, ladies and gentlemen, pray silence please for Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the internet and voice of reason on government web snooping.
Revelations that the US and UK intelligence services have been gathering data from major web companies including Google and Facebook have reignited the debate on internet privacy and the level to which governments should be able to monitor an individual’s web usage.
The typical government stance is that they must monitor web habits and online communications in the interests of national security, particularly preventing terrorism. The typical counter argument is that such snooping is an invasion of privacy, and that giving authorities free rein is a step towards totalitarianism.
Berners-Lee believes a compromise is possible, whereby the firms responsible for running the internet should be connected “at arms length” to government, the Telegraph reports. The web founder said governments should ensure the web remains neutral and independent and that the internet is as important to democracy as a free press.
It is an approach the majority of web users will likely agree with. It provides governments with the ability to monitor usage in the interests of national security, but ensure they do so through legal means rather than some secretive program that raises concerns over civil liberties.