On the day when the Internet turns 25, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has called for a ‘Magna Carta’ bill of rights to protect its users.
Berners-Lee compared to the importance of human rights and the call comes amid growing concerns over web privacy and security.
Speaking to BBC, Sir Tim said: “It’s time for us to make a big communal decision,” he said. “In front of us are two roads – which way are we going to go? 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?
“Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? 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?”
Sir Tim called for vigilance against surveillance by its users, adding: “The people of the world have to be constantly aware, constantly looking out for it – constantly making sure through action, protest, that it doesn’t happen.”
The move comes as the Internet celebrates its 25th anniversary today, as it was ‘created’ on March 12, 1989 when Sir Tim submitted a paper while working at Swiss physics laboratory, Cern.
Based on his earlier programme for storing information called Enquire, it was designed to allow people to work together by combining their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. The response from his boss was the brief: “Vague, but exciting.”
Sir Tim went on to write the first world-wide web server, “httpd”, and the first client “WorldWideWeb”, a hypertext browser/editor that launched publicly on August 6, 1991.
Berners-Lee’s Magna Carta plan is to be taken up as part of an initiative called “the web we want”, which calls on people to generate a digital bill of rights in each country – a statement of principles he hopes will be supported by public institutions, government officials and corporations.
Watch this video from the BBC looking back at 25 years of the web.