Tim Berners-Lee 'deeply concerned' about online privacy

The inventor of the world wide Web has expressed concern over how much governments know about us from our online footprints.

Worried you're giving away too much personal information online? (And I don't mean just oversharing on Facebook.) You're not alone. Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the world wide web, is "deeply concerned" about how much companies know about us from what we do online, the FT reports.

His worries have been peaked by reports of the Prism system in the US this week . This dates back to when George W Bush was president, and allows the National Security Agency (NSA) to harvest emails, audio, and video files from America's biggest Internet and social media companies, like Google, Facebook, and Apple. And our man isn't having any of it.

"Unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society," Berners-Lee said in a statement sent to the FT.

"I call on all web users to demand better legal protection and due process safeguards for the privacy of their online communications, including their right to be informed when someone requests or stores their data." 

The web is so important to most of us now, Berners-Lee says, that governments can have access to our most personal details. "Over the last two decades, the web has become an integral part our lives," he said. "A trace of our use of it can reveal very intimate personal things. A store of this information about each person is a huge liability: Whom would you trust to decide when to access it, or even to keep it secure?"

He's not the only one who's worried. This week, a report from the United Nations warned governments were "lowering the threshold and increasing the justifications" for surveillance.

Is Berners-Lee right? Is our personal information at risk nowadays? And how can we safeguard our privacy? Let me know in the comments, or on our very private Facebook page.

Update: Doubts have been cast since this article was published about exactly how Prism works. Read more about it here.

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