Snooping laws fear of web inventor Tim Berners-Lee

13:06 19 April 2012

Tim Berners-Lee

Tim Berners-Lee

The British boffin who invented the world wide web has called for new government snooping powers to be scrapped.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned that the “dangerous” new laws would lead to a “destruction of human rights” if they were implemented in their current form.

The new legislation, expected in next month’s Queen’s Speech, will enable GCHQ to access information “on demand” in “real time” without a warrant.

But the British computer engineer, who advises the Government on how to make public data more accessible, said there has not been enough discussion on how the sensitive data could be safely stored.

In an interview with The Guardian, Sir Tim said: “The idea that we should routinely record information about people is obviously very dangerous.

“It means that there will be information around which could be stolen, which can be acquired through corrupt officials or corrupt operators, and (could be) used, for example, to blackmail people in the Government or people in the military.

“We open ourselves out, if we store this information, to it being abused.”

The internet pioneer added: “The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing.

“You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to because often people will confide in the internet as they find their way through medical websites....or as an adolescent finds their way through a website about homosexuality, wondering what they are and whether they should talk to people about it.”

The home secretary Theresa May defended the proposals after they faced fierce criticism from backbench MPs and civil liberties groups.

She insisted that suspected terrorists, paedophiles and serious criminals would be targeted by intelligence officials rather than ordinary people.

Latest Stories

Yesterday, 15:13
The cyclist was killed by a lorry in Richmond (Photo by Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

A cyclist has died this afternoon from injuries sustained in a crash with a bin lorry in Richmond during rush-hour yesterday morning.

Read more
Yesterday, 09:14
The 174 bus collided with a house in Harold Hill (Picture by Dani Walsh)

A double-decker bus rolled backwards down a hill and crashed into a house in east London yesterday afternoon.

Read more
Yesterday, 15:00
Chrissie Wellington tweeted about the theft

A brazen cycle thief was caught on camera breaking into an office in south London and stealing Ironman world champion Chrissie Wellington’s prized triathlon bike.

Read more

Quirky London

Quizzes

How much do you really know about QPR legends like Les Ferdinand? Picture: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

Test your knowledge of QPR’s greatest players with our fantastic legends quiz.

Read more
How much do you know about films in London? (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Do you know your Lock Stock from your Long Good Friday, Sliding Doors from Shakespeare in Love?

Read more
How much about this great city do you really know? Take our true Londoner quiz and find out (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Do you know your apples from your pears? Take our Cockney quiz and see how much of a Londoner you really are.

Read more
Guess the manager quiz. Here's a hint, it's not these four.

The managerial merry-go-round spins quickly these days so do you think you’ve got the knowledge to recognise the faces of all these football bosses?

Read more
A normal day at London Liverpool Street station

This quiz is for people who think they know the Tube and rail inside out.

Read more