Originally published October 23 2014
Inventor of internet warns of corporate-government takeover and the suppression of free speech
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Do governments and corporations threaten the freedom and independence of the Internet? Yes, according to the man who developed it more than two decades ago (spoiler alert: No, it wasn't former Vice President Al Gore).
In London at an event called "We Want Web," British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee said both governments and corporations alike wanted to find a way to control the World Wide Web. He is calling for a bill of rights of sorts for the Internet that includes keeping the online world independent while protecting users' privacy.
"If a company can control your access to the Internet, if they can control which websites they go to, then they have tremendous control over your life," Berners-Lee, 59, said at the recent event.
"If a Government can block you going to, for example, the opposition's political pages, then they can give you a blinkered view of reality to keep themselves in power," he continued. "Suddenly the power to abuse the open Internet has become so tempting both for government and big companies."
The renowned computer scientist is director of the World Wide Web Consortium, a group that develops Internet guidelines; he has called for a modern Internet version of the Magna Carta, a 13th century English charter that was credited with guaranteeing British subjects basic rights and freedoms.
'Lots of times it has been abused'
As further reported by Agence France-Presse:
Concerns over privacy and freedom on the Internet have increased in the wake of the revelation of mass government monitoring of online activity following leaks by former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
In addition, some are concerned about a recent ruling by the European Union permitting individuals to request that search engines like Google and Yahoo remove links to information pertaining to them. The concept is known as the "right to be forgotten," but it has raised concerns about the potential for censorship.
"There have been lots of times that it has been abused, so now the Magna Carta is about saying... I want a Web where I'm not spied on, where there's no censorship," Berners-Lee said.
He added that for the Internet to remain a "neutral medium," it must reflect all of humanity, which includes "some ghastly stuff."
"Now some things are of course just illegal, child pornography, fraud, telling someone how to rob a bank, that's illegal before the web and it's illegal after the web," Berners-Lee noted.
There are other dangers to Internet freedom as well. In fact, one of the biggest threats to Internet freedom in recent years has come from none other than the US government, via the Federal Communications Commission.
Despite calls for regulations to ensure "net neutrality," the FCC is attempting to give the telecommunications industry control over Internet access. According to The New York Times, "when you visit a website, the phone or cable company that provides Internet access shouldn't get in the way. Information should be delivered to you quickly and without discriminating about the content."
'The Internet should be a level playing field'
Continuing, the paper explained:
Yet now the principle is under direct attack. On May 15, the Federal Communications Commission (whose chairman, Tom Wheeler, was formerly a leading lobbyist for the telecommunications industry) proposed troubling new rules: Internet service providers could split the flow of traffic into tiers, by offering priority treatment to big corporations who would pay higher fees. That would mean a fast lane for the rich and a dirt road for others, harming small businesses and users.
At the same time, the paper said, large telecom corporations that earn enormous profits will be able to increase their own leverage; through the use of aggressive lobbying, they have already been able to limit competition in 20 states.
The Times recommends classifying broadband as a utility, and making Internet providers common carriers, "just as cellphone companies are for voice access, which they are not allowed to block or degrade.
"The Internet should be a level playing field," the paper said.
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