Web Inventor Says No To Internet Snooping

Published on: Tue, Mar 17, 2009
Tags: internet snooping


Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, expressed his grave concerns about the future of online privacy, while addressing members of the UK Government, in Westminster last week. He said that third parties, including commercial companies should not be allowed to snoop on public’s internet browsing. His speech specifically targeted the increased use of deep packet inspection, usually used by some advertising systems. 

Here are certain excerpts from his speech.

“We use the internet without a thought that a third party would know what we have clicked on. But the URLs / people use reveal a huge amount about their lives, loves, hates and fears. This is extremely sensitive information”.

“It is very important that you can use the internet without the thought that, when we click, a third party will know what we clicked on in a way that might affect how our insurance premium changes, whether we can get life insurance or another job.”

“To allow somebody to snoop on your internet traffic is like allowing a company to put a television camera in your room, except that it will tell them a whole lot more.”

“I feel that the act of using the internet is something that we must be allowed to do without any interference or snooping.”

He said that that ISPs 'snooping' on data was akin to the interception of mail. “This is very important to me, as what is at stake is the integrity of the internet as a communications medium,” said Berners-Lee said on Wednesday.

People would consider using the web ‘in a different light’, on realizing that they are being monitored and the data would be shared with a third party.

Dame Wendy Hall, a professor of computer science at Southampton University, has appealed to Parliament to protect internet users’ privacy.

“There are lots of good reasons why companies and government want access to our data but there are huge downsides to that.” “This debate is about our digital lives. It is about who we are, what we are interested in and what is private to us,” she said

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