On 25th anniversary of the web, Tim Berners-Lee calls for bill of rights

12 Mar 2014

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web

Twenty-five years after creating the format for what would become the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called for the creation of an online ‘Magna Carta’ or bill of rights that would enshrine the rights of users worldwide.

Berners-Lee believes the internet as we know it has come under attack from governments and corporate influence and said that new rules would be needed to protect the “open, neutral” internet we know.

“We need a global constitution – a bill of rights,” he told The Guardian in an interview timed to mark the 25th anniversary of when Berners-Lee, then working at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, drafted the code for the World Wide Web by joining HTML (hypertext mark-up language) with TCP/IP and domain name system protocols.

“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture.

“It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

Berners-Lee’s comments come in the wake of revelations by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden that the US and UK have been engaged in mass internet surveillance and have created tools to undermine encryption and security technologies.

“Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years.”

Tim Berners-Lee image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years