Quoted: Tim Berners-Lee on ‘Internet as a basic human right’

“It’s time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right. That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring Internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live.”

Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, after a report from the World Wide Web Foundation found that the Web is becoming “less free and more unequal,” as the BBC puts it. The foundation’s annual index and report found that Web users are facing increasing censorship and privacy threats, and that the digital divide remains.

“Powerful state actors and economic elites are gaining more control over what ordinary people can do and say online,” the foundation says.

As the BBC notes, the report looked at net neutrality — the principle of equal treatment for all Web traffic — for the first time. “In 74% of Web Index countries, lack of net neutrality means that ability to pay may limit the content and services users can access,” the report says. (Net neutrality, is, of course a hot topic in the United States, where the Federal Communications Commission is considering new rules that would regulate broadband.) The foundation calls for policymakers to “level the playing field by preventing price discrimination in Internet traffic.”

The index ranked countries based on the economic, social and political benefit they gain from the Web, and not surprisingly found that the rankings correlated with countries’ per-capita income. The top 6 countries, in order, were Denmark, Finland, Norway, United Kingdom, Sweden and the United States.

Berners-Lee’s position is nothing new. He has long called for basic human rights to apply to the Web. Earlier this year, he called for a Magna Carta for the Web, using the occasion of its 25th anniversary to do so. “Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it,” he said at the time.


Photo: Tim Berners-Lee, who’s known as the father of the World Wide Web, in 1999. (Gary Reyes/Mercury News archives)


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  • Michael Anderson

    What’s the best way to sum it up? How about this: he’s 100% wrong.

    • Jerry Straut

      Could you list your reasons for believing that his wrong?

  • RDR

    Putin (and the rest of his ilk) will want to know how many divisions Tim Berners-Lee has.