from the doing-things-even-the-Americans-weren't dept
Tim Berners-Lee not only made the Web happen (and gave it away for free), he has continued to defend his creation and its users from various attacks. As Techdirt has reported, he's stood up for net neutrality, condemned NSA surveillance and called for a bill of rights for online users (although he's not always on the side of the angels….) Now he's added his voice to those warning about the UK's Snooper's Charter, soon to be resurrected, as The Guardian reports:
Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has urged Britons to fight the government's plans to extend the country's surveillance powers, and act as a worldwide leader for promoting good governance on the web.
Berners-Lee is probably being too optimistic about the likelihood that the UK government will suddenly come to its senses, pull back from going full Orwell, and turn into a shining example to others. After all:
"It has lost a lot of that moral high ground, when people saw that GCHQ was doing things that even the Americans weren't," Berners-Lee said. "So now I think, if Britain is going to establish a leadership situation, it's going to need to say: 'We have solid rules of privacy, which you as an individual can be assured of, and that you as a company can be assured of'."
The economic argument that online businesses need an environment in which privacy is respected, is probably one of the few that David Cameron might listen to. As Berners-Lee notes, if a tech startup can't promise potential users basic protection for their personal data, then its product is seriously hobbled before it's even launched. That means that once the Snooper's Charter is in place -- assuming there is no rebellion by freedom-loving Conservative MPs when it comes to the vote -- people will think twice about choosing the UK as the base for a new tech company. In fact, people have already started leaving because of what the Snooper's Charter will do to their businesses:
Last week, less than one quarter of the electorate in the United Kingdom voted to give the Conservatives a 12-seat majority parliament. To those of you who voted Tory, I say great job: you're the reason Ind.ie (and thus Laura, Jo, and myself) are leaving the United Kingdom.
That comes from Aral Balkan, a well-known developer in the UK, who put the Snooper's Charter as one of four key reasons why he and his team at ind.ie will be seeking another country that still values freedom and privacy. Sadly, it seems more likely that others will be decide to follow their example than that the UK government will heed Berners-Lee's warning and change direction here.