WORLD WIDE WEB INVENTOR Sir Tim Berners-Lee has spoken out about the importance of an open web and made the case for a system that fosters whistleblowers.
Berners-Lee, who is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, was interviewed at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit yesterday via a satellite link.
An obvious hot topic is web privacy, or rather, the lack of privacy on the internet.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) and UK Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) were not named, but Berners-Lee did say that there needs to be a balance between police power and human rights.
Asked whether there should be trade-off between privacy and cybercrime, he said that is "a hard question to answer" as it balances so many important values against each other - police power versus human rights.
"Whenever you have a police force that has strong powers of any sort, you need to have an agency to hold them accountable. The question is who will guard the guards," he added.
"They must be responsible to the public, to be able to assure people that our human rights are not being violated behind our backs."
Where peoples' rights might be violated, Berners-Lee wants to make sure that anyone that steps in to save them should be protected, and allowed to blow whistles to their heart's content.
"In the US and the UK the systems of accountability have failed, only one group protects us from abuse and that is whistleblowers," he observed.
"Whistleblowers need special protection even if they have violated laws. We can't trust that any system won't go astray, however much good will, so we have to rely on the whistleblower."
Unsurprisingly, Berners-Lee wants things to be as open as possible.
"The web as an infrastructure has to be open and be a neutral platform as we have to know that when we are using the web no-one is looking over our shoulder. We have to be able to use the web with impunity. It has to be open so everyone can participate in a national and international discourse," he added.
"The web is a very general platform and it's incredible how its been used, the amount of creativity and things done with the web, I've never imagined. The spirit of international collaboration - done by people in their spare time collaborating, sharing an idea, feeling it would be cool to do so, that spirit has been really amazing." µ
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