Tim Berners-Lee attacks governments for 'seriously spying on the internet' after Edward Snowden scandal

British engineer is credited as one of the fathers of the internet

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the British engineer often credited with inventing the World Wide Web, has attacked governments for “seriously spying on the internet”.

Speaking in an interview with The Times, Berners-Lee said: "In the Middle East, people have been given access to the Internet but they have been snooped on and then they have been jailed.”

"It can be easy for people in the West to say 'oh, those nasty governments should not be allowed access to spy.' But it's clear that developed nations are seriously spying on the Internet".

Berners-Lee, 58, made the comments during a prize ceremony for the inaugural £1m Queen Elizabeth prize for engineering. The prize was presented by the Queen for Berners-Lee’s part in the creation of the internet.

Other recipients included Robert Kahn, Vint Cerf, Louis Pouzi. Marc Andreessen was also chosen but was not present at the ceremony.

 "The original design of the web of 24 years ago was for a universal space,” said Berners-Lee, “We didn't have a particular computer in mind or browser, or language. When you make something universal … it can be used for good things or nasty things.”

“We just have to make sure it's not undercut by any large companies or governments trying to use it and get total control.”

During the ceremony the Queen described engineering as a “noble profession” that used science “to find creative, practical solutions.”

“These days, engineering is seldom a solo effort and is increasingly a global endeavour. The winners of the first prize are a splendid example of this – five individuals across two continents who have completely transformed the way we communicate, do business and share knowledge. Our congratulations go not only to the winners, but also to their colleagues and teams.”

Berners-Lee made his comments after being questioned about the revelations by Edward Snowden, the US citizen whistleblower who revealed details of the PRISM program – a project used by the American National Security Agency (NSA) to intercept personal information online.

The £1m prize is administered by the Royal Academy of Engineering and is awarded to engineers who are responsible for "outstanding advances" that lead to a "significant benefit to humanity".

“Information on the web can be really important in peoples' survival,” said Berners-Lee before the ceremony. “Teenagers who are unsure about their sexuality who need to contact others, or people being abused trying to find helpline.”

“There are things that happen on the net that are very intimate, which people are going to be loathe to do if they feel there's somebody looking over their shoulder."

 

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Web Design Apprentice

    £6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well established websit...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior .Net Application Developer

    £40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: .Net / SQL Developer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A skilled .NET developer with e...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Technical Support Engineer - PC/Mac

    £25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company are cur...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links