Web creator warns governments over surveillance

The inventor of the web has warned that a “growing tide of surveillance and censorship” could mean the end of the internet as we know it today.

 

Tim Berners-Lee issued the warning as he launched the World Wide Web Foundation’s first annual report into global censorship.

The report says that 94 per cent of countries in the index do not monitor government surveillance on the internet. It says that the legal framework around government abilities to spy on their own and other country’s citizens needs urgent review.

The WWWF also said that 30 per cent of countries looked at in the first report censor political content, including Turkey, South Korea Russia and China.

“One of the most encouraging findings of this year’s web index is how the web and social media are increasingly spurring people to organise, take action and try to expose wrongdoing in every region of the world,” said Sir Tim in the report.

"But some governments are threatened by this, and a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy.

“Bold steps are needed now to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and association online,” he added.

The report ranks countries based on the social and political impact of the web. Sweden came out on top, followed by Norway, the UK, US and New Zealand.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson told the BBC that it feels the government does have appropriate levels of control and oversight when it comes to monitoring internet traffic.

"The success of our intelligence agencies relies on secrecy. But secrecy does not mean lack of accountability. The United Kingdom’s intelligence agencies operate under the tightest of controls and oversights.

"Our agencies only act in line with their strict legal mission, above all keeping people safe from harm.

“There is a triple lock to ensure every action is lawful, necessary and proportionate - interception underpinned by Ministerial warrants, world class internal controls and three safety nets of outside scrutiny by the Interception Commissioner, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament and the Investigatory Powers Tribunal.”

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