Tim Berners-Lee Says UK's Net Spying Plans Would Be 'Destruction Of Human Rights'

from the and-he-should-know dept

Not content with inventing the Web and then giving it away, Tim Berners-Lee remains highly active in warning about the threats the Internet and its users face. Most recently he has taken on the British government's disproportionate plans to store information about every email sent and Web page visited in the UK:

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who serves as an adviser to the government on how to make public data more accessible, says the extension of the state's surveillance powers would be a "destruction of human rights" and would make a huge amount of highly intimate information vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials. In an interview with the Guardian, Berners-Lee said: "The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor internet activity is amazing."
What's particularly useful about his latest intervention is not just the authority with which he speaks on this subject, but the specificity of his warning:
"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."
That is, even leaving aside concerns about crucially important issues such as privacy and total surveillance, the UK plans are an awful idea from a purely practical viewpoint: they will actually make the UK less safe for all the reasons that Berners-Lee lists. Because of this fundamental flaw, he emphasizes:
"the most important thing to do is to stop the bill as it is at the moment"
Let's hope the UK government listens to its own adviser, at least.

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Filed Under: human rights, internet freedom, spying, tim berners-lee, uk


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  1. identicon
    Call me Al, 20 Apr 2012 @ 7:04am

    Re: Re:

    I think this is a very important point and also a good insight into the arrogance of the UK State (and other states). They really believe, despite considerabe evidence to the contrary, that they are capable of designing and running a system such as this in an efficient and secure fashion.

    Their IT history is abysmal with billion of ús being wasted on projects, some of which never come to fruition or are not fit for purposes but are wheeled out anyway.

    Their history of protecting data is also awful, with laptops left on trains. CDs floating around. Websites left unprotected. Data left open on systems with easy access for anyone with the nouse to look.

    As the AC above said, this will become a one-stop shop for hackers. They'll be able to obtain all kinds of data just on the basis of what has been proposed so far. I would also not be surprised if their was further amendments in the future, with government gradually adding more and more data to the system and so making it an even more attractive target.

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