back to article Web daddy Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Back off Putin, I'm no CIA stooge

The internet is a basic human right – and most certainly not the work of CIA agents – says the man who brought about the World Wide Web. Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called out Russian President Vladimir Putin over his claims the internet is run by the CIA as a US intelligence operation. "It was the academic community who wired up …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's time to recognize the internet as a basic human right," he said.

    Tim, its time to recognize that you are a chocolate teapot.

    1. James 51

      Re: "It's time to recognize the internet as a basic human right," he said.

      Wow. Way to farm the down votes.

  2. Primus Secundus Tertius

    No such thing

    I object to the phrase "Basic human right". The most we can ask for is that we are not robbed, murdered, or worse.

    1. Chris G

      Re: No such thing

      'Basic' human rights are the rights that (should) allow you to do your best to survive in whatever situation you are un/lucky enough to have been born into without somebody else affecting you in a detrimental manner.

      i.e. water, food, shelter, family and being allowed to defend yourself against unjustified attack, beyond that there is not much that is basic, even education although it should be a right is not basic.

      There are many other rights we should have but basic is basic is basic, learning to read and write will not necessarily keep you alive whereas water and food and the wherewithall to attain it will.

      1. MacroRodent

        Re: No such thing

        even education although it should be a right is not basic.

        In a modern society, not being able to read, write and to do simple arithmetic relegates one to a second-class citizen status, with hardly any jobs available. Therefore at least the elementary education should be considered a basic right in our current society.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No such thing

          Rights are not something granted by nature. The right to Education

          was a product of the Reformation, particularly in Scotland, where

          the Scottish National Covenant concluded that there needed to

          be a purpose for a National government and that purpose was

          to provide for the literacy of the people such that they "might

          seek their own salvation."

          Fubar the Hack

    2. Tapeador

      Re: No such thing

      You're talking about rights as against your fellow citizens (that they not murder you). Do you not think you should have any rights against the state? E.g. that it not pass laws excessively restricting your freedom of religion, association, private life, expression; that you never be tortured or executed by the state, or detained or punished without pre-existing legal grounds, or deprived of a fair trial, or discriminated against in the enjoyment of these liberties against the state, because of your gender/sexuality/ethnicity, etc?

      Or do you believe all states should be allowed to pass whatever laws they like? Because it sounds like that's what you're arguing.

      1. KroSha
        Big Brother

        Re: No such thing

        "Do you not think you should have any rights against the state?"

        Um, no? You have no rights whatsoever, only privileges that the society that you live in has granted you. If you don't like the state / country that you live in, you have three options:

        a) Leave and go live elsewhere, although you are then subject to the rules of a new society.

        b) Try and do something about it, YMMV.

        c) Bitch, whinge and complain about it. (the Liberals' favourite)

        The only thing you can decide is how you face life, but cries of "Human Rights" generally mean that someone is feeling put upon and wants to have a tantrum.

        The internet is not a right, it's an important tool, but one that you can live without if necessary.

        1. holyf

          Re: No such thing

          Wrong and naive!! You have whatever rights afforded to you by the ruling class of the day.

          Think about it... What say do I have on matters such as these other than which prospective MP of the 2, possibly 3 main parties to vote for on polling day? I vote for who I want to be my representative and if they do manage to get elected, the party-political system kicks in immediately so that they too are ruled by the rulers. Democracy is an illusion designed to keep the masses thinking they have some control over matters if you ask me. In reality we don't.

          1. Tapeador

            Re: No such thing @holyf

            In a very real sense your point is accurate, from a constitutional point of view. Indeed in a system with an all-powerful sovereign we do indeed have what rights the ruling power permit us. However that ruling power is the people. The parties you speak of put to the country at election time, precisely the issues it thinks concern you. That's why the Labour party in 1996/97 campaigned on their white paper "bringing rights home", which promised to entrench the European Convention on Human Rights within the British legal system, so that all branches of government would be strongly bound by it, except for Parliament which chooses to honour it and also chooses to honour the procedure whereby all legislation must be certified compliant with the Human Rights Act.

        2. Tapeador

          Re: No such thing @ KroSha

          Why should it be a privilege granted by society, and not a moral right, that one should be safe from cruel treatment by the state? What is it do you think that makes the authority of that society's leadership and rules legitimate, if not protecting its members from cruel treatment?

          1. KroSha

            Re: No such thing @ KroSha

            There is no such thing as a moral right. You're spouting magical fairy dust if you think that saying "I'm right" will do anything against someone who vehemently disagrees with you. Being right is very nice, but a bloody nose is a bloody nose. All your so-called rights are just words on paper that lots of people agree is a good thing. They don't actually exist.

            All civil authority ultimately stems from the ability to commit violence; whether it's riot police with batons, or armed mobs storming the Bastille. That's why the last resort of a desperate Government would be to declare martial law and get armed soldiers patrolling the streets.

            Parliament rules by the will of the people, but only if people are willing to get up off their behinds and loudly protest when things go bad. And politicos have got very good at mollifying enough of the populace to avert that.

            1. Tapeador

              Re: No such thing @ KroSha

              Now you're just being silly. There are plenty of moral rights. All legal rights are founded on moral rights. And I'm talking about legal rights. And yes saying "I'm right", and why, will - if one is right - do plenty against everyone who disagrees with me, if said to the judiciary. Remember we're not living in a state of nature anymore.

              Oh so now you say that they're just words on pieces of paper and lots of people agree with them AND they don't exist? I'm a bit confused - what DOES exist for you, apart from physical objects? It seems to me these rights not only exist but are entitlements inherent in the nature of law itself, in moderate republican and monarchical forms of government alike.

              As for your argument that all civil authority stems from the means to commit violence, that's not true, you're confusing the means with the ends. Civil authority stems from political obligation.

    3. Alfred

      Re: No such thing

      "The most we can ask for is that we are not robbed, murdered, or worse."

      For crying out loud, aspire to something. Aim higher! This poverty of ambition is likie a disease. We can do better.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    WWW != Internet

    STBL should know better.

  4. John 156
    Big Brother

    Is Tim in the pay of the CIA? Oh, no!

    In a situation whereby the CIA has bullied and bribed major commercial website operators to harvest private communications passing through their servers on the CIA's behalf, I find it difficult not to have sympathy with Putin's opinion; furthermore, when we know that GCHQ has also been actively harvesting data and passing it to the CIA which then passes it all to Israel, it is difficult to believe that Berners-Lee's ambition for his invention has been realised in practice; would that it had.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Always listen to the paranoiacs

    I recall setting up a new PC for some friends around 1999ish. They hadn't owned one before. Their son asked if the government could see everything he was doing online and told him that it was theoretically possible but highly unlikely.

    A while later he told me he was sure he was right. "When I use Napster," he confided, "a message pops up that says This Program Has Caused An Illegal Operation And Will Be Terminated".

    I laughed at his misinterpretation of a Windows error message but he turned out to be 100% correct about the government.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And Putin is a

    borderline lunatic by now. Power has gone to his head and all the indoctrinations of his KGB days is coming home to roost. With a lot of help from sycophants in the Kremlin.

    Paranoid is a mild term, for him.

    I think he has Tsarist illusions and ambitions and thinks the world owes him/Russia the fearful adulation the Soviet Union in the Soviet era commanded during the cold war.

    And the West is no saints either ! We do live in dangerous times, indeed.

    Mines the bullet proof Kevlar lined coat now. Black copters already circling, I hear.

    1. Ossi

      Re: And Putin is a

      It's difficult to tell whether it's lunacy or calculation, but in this case I rather fancy it's calculation. Putin is aware of the paranoia of the Russian people (amply encouraged by his propaganda). He's seeking to exploit that.

      It's worth reflecting on that. Those who are the most paranoid are those who are, ironically, most easily exploited. Critical thinking is good. Paranoia and overreaction are not.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: And Putin is a

        What propaganda?

        Are you oblivious to the recent webcam hacking website that was reported on the news? "Russian website has a feed to a webcam in your house". Why does it matter if it's Russian or Australian or Irish? The fact is the website was doing something it shouldn't have been doing - although it should serve as a lesson to a lot of people to change their bloody passwords.

        It's all very easy to believe that ourselves in the west don't get brain washed with propaganda, but we do. We were told within minutes of MH17 being shot down that the Russians did it, which has yet to be proven - even though there's more evidence to suggest the Ukrainians shot the plane down. With the riots in Fergusson we were told the riot was because of the death of the teenager when it was a protest about the treatment of young Black Americans that turned nasty due to Police brutality.

        If you truly believe you are not being brainwashed by propaganda then you sir live in happy self contained ignorance.

        1. Ossi

          Re: And Putin is a

          I balance probabilities - it's the best we can all do. As you seem to have some strong opinions, presumably you're gaining information from some propaganda and agenda-free source. On what basis have you decided that the sources I'm looking at are propaganda, whilst the sources you're looking at are not?

          1. wolfetone Silver badge

            Re: And Putin is a

            "Putin is aware of the paranoia of the Russian people (amply encouraged by his propaganda). He's seeking to exploit that."

            This wording here, along with a lot of articles from various UK news agencies, led to my conclusion as it's a one sided statement. The Russians have always been paranoid of the west, America especially, and with good reason if you read the CIA "Tortune" reports.

            1. Ossi

              Re: And Putin is a

              A statement being one-sided is not evidence it is wrong. I've found the statements about CIA torture from various UK news agencies particularly one-sided since the report was published. I find physicist' statements about gravity one-sided.

              It's interesting how you easily dismiss 'lots of articles from various UK news agencies' when you they don't suit your narrative, whilst accepting the torture report completely readily. Dismissing or downplaying evidence that you dislike whilst accepting and exaggerating the importance of evidence that you do sounds a lot like bias to me.

  7. Tapeador

    Every day

    another bonkers thing Putin says or does. Is he mad or is he pretending?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Every day


      He's like Russell Brand with nukes.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Every day

        Downvoted by some pillock who thinks Russell Brand is the New Messiah.

        1. Tapeador

          Re: Every day

          More likely someone who thinks Putin is! "Oh at least he stands up for his country and wants it to be strong unlike the limp West etc etc..."

  8. JoeKrozac

    The fact is, the 'internet' was initially envisioned and created by the whiz kids (and adults) at DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). It was originally funded primarily by Uncle Sam and there is no refuting this. Fortunately for the rest of us, the "Internet" has evolved into a near-artificial intelligence of it's own, not as pliable by the U.S. Government as once hoped. It is in some ways like the monster re-created by Young Dr Frankenstein (Gene Wilder), when Washington said "what are all the people on the Internet DOING?!? TELL us!!", the monster leaped up and said "PUTIN' ON THE RITZ!" (pun intended ;-)

    Thanks everyone, I'll be here all weekend, don't forget to tip your server (another intentional pun) and try the veal! :-))

  9. Scott Sinnock

    Internet as a right? Maybe, but how about food and shelter first, then maybe fresh water, then perhaps electricity, then perhaps the internet along with other modern things like free medical care? First food, shelter and fresh water. Plus, I guess I was mistaken, because I thought Al Gore invented the internet.

    1. Florida1920

      Right we are

      First food, shelter and fresh water.

      I can order food from my local supermarket, water from several sources, and book hotel rooms online. The Interwebs are right with me.

  10. AugustB

    only 38%?

    Really only 38% of the world us subject to censorship? That's a low ball estimate, I'd be shocked if its actually that low.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New layout

    I hate it.

    Go back to the old one

    1. Ossi

      Re: New layout

      Yeah. People don't like change. That's how UKIP happens.

  12. David Pollard

    A US intelligence operation?

    Probably not. But no one who has ever used Ghostery or the like would be in any doubt that the present purpose of the www is to control the behaviour of the lower orders.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm no CIA stooge

    right, and we didn't invade Crimea!

  14. holyf

    If you ask me Putin is right. The internet might have been created by well meaning academics, but they've long since been usurped by the powers of various states. The internet now is nothing more that a bonanza for those states to pry into the communications and the interaction graphs of the world's citizens. That's not to say that Putin and his apparatchiks don't have their hands in the cookie jar.

    It's a bloody sad and sorry state of affairs that we are powerless in the face of their ability and willingness to monitor us all under the guise of whatever boogeyman is currently under the bed.

    Then there's the usual "well, if you've got nothing to hide" bullshit spouted all the time. Most of these surveillance states are currently under the control of relatively benign powers, but god help us if that ever changes and as history teaches, it inevitably will. Imagine how easy it would be in this day and age to run a quick query on whatever graph databases they use to find out who the undesired du jour happen to be. For Christ sake, Facebook could probably tell you the probability of somebody liking Marmite.

    The UK have just jailed a mother of 5 for posting pictures of herself on Facebook wearing a Turban and espousing the righteousness of her beliefs about Syria. There wouldn't be any problem, presumably, posting pictures of yourself wearing a British beret and shouting whatever the latest foreign policy shit happens to be.

    The default inclination of any government, no matter how benign, is to monitor, surveil and control their citizens and the internet is absolute manna from heaven for their ability to do so. They are taking full advantage; or at least striving to.

    Florida1920, you're an ignoramus, plain and simple. Have you ever had a deep thought in your life?

  15. PNGuinn

    Memo to Vlad:

    Just don't try to piss off Linus.

  16. duncan campbell


    Putin's fullofit on this one.

    There was an internet feed into Russia thru Finland before

    their Universities wired up, but it was exclusive to the

    Kreml and KGB.

    It was their big Universities that drove Russia's internet:

    it became apparent that a hard knowledge of physics

    could be directly leveraged into the symbol-space of the

    Internet. It took more than a decade for the Kreml to

    re-exert it's traditional POV.


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