25 Years Later, Web Inventor Tim Berners-Lee Envisions a Different Internet

Assuming you were already born, do you remember what you were doing 25 years ago? Tim Berners-Lee, a name you've likely heard many times before, was busy inventing the world wide web some two and a half decades ago. These days he's the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), which oversees the web's continued development, and a lobbyist for a sort of bill of rights for freedom of speech on the Internet.

Berners-Lee couldn't have envisioned how big and instrumental the Internet could become to our daily lives, nor could he have predicted the level of government spying that takes place online. Most of us couldn't, right up until former U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the extent of government spying, and in particular the NSA's PRISM program.

Tim Berners-Lee Sketch Notes
Tim Berners-Lee's sketch notes for an open Internet. Image Source: Flickr (jamjar)

"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?," Berners-Lee told BBC Radio today, according to Reuters. "Or are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say,' actually, now it's so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?"

Berners-Lee recognizes that governments need certain powers to stay ahead of regular criminals and cyber criminals, but at the same time, he believes some additional oversight over spy agencies is in order, as well as over organizations that collect data on citizens.