Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee hits out at spy agencies as bosses face MPs grilling

Sir Tim called for 'a full and frank' public debate as intelligence bosses face quizzing from Parliamentary committee later this afternoon

The creator of the world wide web has hit out at US and UK spy agencies, condemning their online encryption cracking as "appalling and foolish".

Sir Tim Berners-Lee argued cracking online encryption, which protects millions of users' data, would weaken online security and benefit criminal gangs and hostile states.

The computer scientist said the checks and balances implemented to oversee the agencies had failed, and accused the security agencies of weakening online security.

Sir Tim, who founded the web on Christmas Day 1990, argued publishing leaks by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was in the public interest as it "uncovered many important issues" and called for a "full and frank public debate" about the scale and scope of state surveillance.

He said whistleblowing and responsible reporting can "step in" to protect society's interests.

"Whistleblowers, and responsible media outlets that work with them, play an important role", he told The Guardian.

"We need powerful agencies to combat criminal activity online - but any powerful agency needs checks and balances, and based on recent revelations it seems the current system of checks and balances has failed."

His comments come as intelligence chiefs from MI5, MI6 and GCHQ prepare to face MPs later this afternoon in Westminister for a grilling on their practices and conduct from Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee, led by Sir Malcolm Rifkind.  

The 90-minute session is scheduled to begin at 2pm GMT and will be broadcast with a time delay to allow the removal of anything that could threaten national security or safety of those employed by the agencies.

Sir Malcolm told Sky's Murnaghan Show that the committee would not ask questions that would force intelligence chiefs into revealing secret information.

He said: “We do ask them that in private but, what has become already evident, is you can have an intelligent and mature debate on intelligence issues, including the intelligence chiefs themselves, without having to reveal specific secrets.”

The hearing will be the first time intelligence bosses are quizzed in public by a committee.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate