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Tim Berners-Lee calls for Magna Carta, less US control over Internet

updated 11:06 am EDT, Wed March 12, 2014

Remarks in various venues mark 25th anniversary of Internet invention

In a series of statements commemorating the 25th anniversary of the modern Internet, inventor Tim Berners-Lee asked a pointed question. In a post on Google's official blog, Berners-Lee wondered "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?" In response, the computer scientist wants to build a "Magna Carta," codifying the rights of Internet users, and limiting the ability of governments to interfere with the execution of a global network.

"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," Berners-Lee said. He added that "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 believes that US governance of the Internet is neither required, nor desired. He noted that "The US can't have a global place in the running of something which is so non-national. There is huge momentum towards that uncoupling, but it is right that we keep a multi-stakeholder approach, and one where governments and companies are both kept at arm's length."

"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," Berners-Lee told The Guardian.

Greeting from Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee on the Web's 25th anniversary from Web25 on Vimeo.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. prl99

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: 03-24-09

    I agree about the back door but I'm far more worried about the front door--ISPs limiting what we can do and controlling the amount of traffic. I really don't see competition reducing the cost, especially when Comcast will probably get away with buying Time Warner. Who's left to compete with? We try and get the government out but we're left with a different type of government, one who's only desire is to make money. Government control at least tries to make things equitable whereas no government control could very easily allow prices for common people to escalate.

  1. FormerNavalPerson

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 07-11-05

    The Internet is not synonymous with the Web

    The post incorrectly suggests that "the Internet" is 25 years old. It is much older. Today is the 25th anniversary of the publishing of an important paper (by Sir Tim Berners Lee) envisioning the World Wide Web. If anything, today is the Web's birthday, not the internet's.

  1. Mike Wuerthele

    Managing Editor

    Joined: 07-19-12

    I wasn't counting DARPA/ARPANet.

  1. Impatient1

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 10-17-02

    Oct. 29, 1969 was birth of the Internet.

  1. daqman

    Junior Member

    Joined: 09-15-00

    Darn, I'm feeling old. I worked in the same group as Tim in the data handling division at CERN in 1998/1998. At the time I was using the CERN RPC library to communicate from VAX-VMS machines to embedded microprocessors. Tim was one of the authors of CERN RPC. We used a machine very much like the one that is now in the CERN museum as the first web server. That's a strange thought that a machine I may have used ended up in a museum. So it's been 25 years, wow!

  1. robttwo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 11-15-05

    Pie in the sky feel-ggod rhetoric.

    As if governments are going to say "Oh, we better not do that, there is an Internet Magna Carta".

    This guy is a great scientist, but needs to stand inside reality on occasion.

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