back to article Berners-Lee: 'Growing tide of surveillance' is destroying the internet

Tim Berners-Lee has warned that snooping spooks are destroying the free spirit of the internet. He said a "growing tide of surveillance and censorship" was drowning the democratic nature of the web. Sir Tim was speaking at the launch of the World Wide Web Foundation's annual web index report, which analyses the web's " …


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  1. ukgnome

    Surely they don't use the internet for spying do they? I thought it was all porn and online shops.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Yes, that represents about 99% of the web but they are looking for the other 1%.... Unfortunately they have to monitor 100% in order to achieve their goal.

      1. Splodger
        Big Brother

        Don't worry, electrical appliance companies are getting on board with the whole spying thing (e.g. LG).

        Together they'll have us covered 100% very shortly.

    2. Shrimpling
      Thumb Up

      You forgot the cat videos, they are very important too.

      1. Graham Marsden


        As part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary, they've rebroadcast the episode "Dalek" in which it "downloads the whole internet".

        It's no wonder the Dalek self-destructed in the end...!

  2. Alister

    Maybe he and Vint Cerf should have a chat about whether privacy is a good thing...

  3. Suricou Raven

    Proposed solution?

    So far the best I've seen is a combination of political pressure to buy time with a crypto-anarchist approach in the longer term. Encrypt everything and set up a suitably redundant and decentralized infrastructure, and it becomes prohibitively expensive to monitor or censor.

    1. Charles 9

      Re: Proposed solution?

      1. Overhead's a bitch. Try running a Freenet node for a few weeks and see how little useful traffic you get for the bandwidth allotment.

      2. You forget about pwning the endpoints. IOW, the plods can always go AROUND the encryption.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother


    Did it never cross your mind as to why the military were so eager to get involved from the outset ?

    1. Nigel 11

      Re: Tim

      why the military were so eager to get involved from the outset ?

      Actually the military invented it before civilians knew what a computer network was. It was designed to maintain communications during and after a nuclear war, and probably would.

      "Military intelligence" is reputed to be oxymoronic, and certainly isn't what most of the public need to be concerned about. It's the non-military state internal intelligence agencies that concern us, especially when the rules applied to us are not equally applied to our masters / political superiors / rulers / pond-slime / whatever you call them.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Tim @nigel

        Catch on fast, glad you explained the subtext for our American readers.

        And for our southern US readers here is another re-cap:

        Bad men in uniforms invent computer network, realise can be used for spying on you so give it away.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes you wish Tim had retained some rights to the Internet. He could have revoked permission for oppressive governments to use it.

    1. Goldmember

      "rights to the Internet"

      The web, dear AC, the web. Not the Internet. You have to get that right on a site like this.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They have to monitor the intertubes of everyone to be able to indentify the ones who are't watching porn/cat videos/window shopping... weirdos such as those must be stopped.

  7. i like crisps
    Big Brother


    Hi Tim, look, i've tried using that 'Backdoor' you put in the Internet

    so that no one can see what your up to, i've tried using the following;


    SHOULDER BUTTON and SELECT, but all i've been getting is the extra

    speed settings on Street Fighter 2 Turbo... where am i going wrong?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Berners-Lee didn't invent the Internet. He came along well after it was in use. His contributions to the WWW are well known,and appreciated, but that's where it ends.

    There should be no limit, surveillance, or censorship of information on the Internet, full stop. Those are the tools of despots and dictators. That human right should be ingrained by the United Nations.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Spies be spying. That's what they do. Even if it was made illegal it would still continue and the people responsible would be shielded by 'top secret' 'operational' and the like. The spies want -at the end of the day although there are lots of other factors- intel on potential foreign aggressors and the politicians will never say no to a handy source of blackmail material; so you can't count on it ever lessening, let alone stopping.

      What we need is ubiquitous encryption on everything; with encryption that the various letter-agencies haven't had their sticky paws all over. Probably won't stop them; but we can collectively make the fuckers earn their paycheques, at least.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And if they just ban encryption wholesale and require munging of all content passing through its lines to mess up stego...?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That just might be the point at which the frog realises it's being boiled. I think -could easily be wrong though- that people would kick up about that.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You underestimate the stupidity of John Q. Public. Not only is the water almost to boiling already but they've been adding stuff to the water, affecting your thinking. At this point, the frog may be addled enough to not be able to swim out even IF cognizant of the facts. IOW, the point of lucidity is already past the point of no return.

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge

    This is not new

    When I was a CS student in the mid-80s we joked about the NSA trawler, being pretty sure there was one, as it wouldn't make sense to NOT have one. Didn't stop us from viewing naked kitten pron though.

  10. Steve Knox

    Improperly Implemented Security* is destroying the web


    *No, not THAT IIS

  11. Down not across Silver badge

    Contribution to what?

    "World Wide Web Foundation's annual web index report, which analyses the web's "contribution to development and human rights globally".

    Sweden comes top, followed by Norway, while the UK is third place and the US in fourth."

    Looking at that list looks more like list of contribution to spying and eroding privacy globally.

    (Actually not sure if Norway should be there or not, but the rest certainly gobble as much data passing the borders as possible).

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    But still, no Reg SSL.

    Encouraged by the article, I tried to go to

    Of course, it doesn't work. Captain Cisco on the other side of the building (and the NSA) needn't know from whence comes my feed of trivial, geeky information. Please? I'd prefer, fwiw, that you use a self-signed certificate since I'm not all that keen on RSA and company, and it worries clueless folk.

    Btw, nice job on the 10-minute Make It Better option!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But still, no Reg SSL.

      Here! Here! Create your own CA and sign your own certificate. I'd add it to my trusted CAs.

  13. cortland

    The Internet and modern technology have made feasible a social and commercial system so powerful that we now think it is necessary, but it also enhances our shortcomings as social and political beings, only one of which is the exposure of things we once thought private. Revise history? Easily; the USSR could do that!

    We are now able to revise the present -- and edit the words sent from one person to another.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excessive spying drives naughty people underground!

    I hear that some of the worst badun's are meeting in person and in real time to have actual CONVERSATIONS!

    No facebook, no meta data, no server logs, no images, no recordings, no nothing.

    Evil bastards!

  15. Potemkine Silver badge

    Your baby was killed years ago...

    ... by all the marketing/spam/business crowd who transformed a network made to exchange knowledge in a virtual mall for oil snake vendors and pickpockets.

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