Tim Berners-Lee calls for online Magna Carta as web turns 25

Mar 12, 2014

Inventor of the World Wide Web says it's time to create an online bill of rights to defend freedom and privacy


SIR Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has called for the creation of an online bill of rights similar to the Magna Carta.

Berners-Lee said that a system to guarantee the rights of web users was needed to maintain the independence and integrity of the World Wide Web, The Guardian reports.

On the 25th anniversary of the day he drafted an outline of what would become the web – a collection of online documents accessible from anywhere in the world – Berners-Lee said: "We need a global constitution, a bill of rights."

The computer scientist has been a vocal critic of online surveillance since Edward Snowdon, a former NSA contractor, leaked documents that detail how the US and British governments gather data on web users worldwide.

"It's time for us to make a big communal decision," Berners-Lee told the BBC. "In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go? Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance? Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the World Wide Web?"

Berners-Lee has previously spoken in defence of the actions of Edward Snowdon, saying that his decision to turn whistleblower was "in the public interest". He has also been an outspoken critic of the "growing tide of surveillance and censorship" in many parts of the world.

The constitution on internet rights and freedoms should also consider issues surrounding copyright laws around the world and how ethics work online. Berners-Lee's plan for an online bill of rights will be incorporated into a new campaign called "Web We Want" that aims to build an international review of internet conventions.

According to the plan, issues of privacy, free speech and "responsible anonymity" should all be considered, but a degree of regional and cultural variation must be taken into account. Berners-Lee said that while rules on internet and web use may not necessarily be identical worldwide, it is important to create a shared set of international values and standards.

He said: "The key thing is getting people to fight for the web and to see the harm that a fractured web would bring. Like any human system, the web needs policing and of course we need national laws, but we must not turn the network into a series of national silos."

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Clever bloke, our Tim, but no politician....does he not understand that any piece of paper is only as good as the governments that support it?....so there goes any Web Magna Carta, shredded by the greed, chicanery, control-freakery and most other characteristics of our leaders