Tim Berners-Lee: We need a Web that's open and international

In an interview with Wired, the inventor of the World Wide Web stresses the importance of an open environment following efforts by certain countries to centralize the Web.

Tim Berners-Lee speaking at the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
Tim Berners-Lee speaking at the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland Stephen Shankland/CNET

Tim Berners-Lee is again speaking out on the need for a decentralized Web that works internationally.

Chatting with Wired at an event this week promoting the magazine's March issue, the so-called father of the Web spoke about the threat to his creation from countries trying to insulate it.

"I want a Web that's open, works internationally, works as well as possible and is not nation-based," Berners-Lee said. "What I don't want is a Web where the Brazilian government has every social network's data stored on servers on Brazilian soil. That would make it so difficult to set one up."

Brazilian lawmakers have been debating a bill that would require companies such as Google and Facebook to maintain their own data servers in the country, Reuters reported in December. Designed to ensure that user information remains in Brazil, the bill is considered a response to reports that the US National Security Agency snooped on Brazil's president and many of the country's citizens.

The distrust that has surfaced following the reports of NSA spying also presents a threat to the open Web, and one even greater than censorship, Berners-Lee said. That's one reason why he believes certain whistleblowers such as Edward Snowden who leak information only in "extreme circumstances" need to be protected, Wired reported. And that need extends beyond just whistleblowers.

"It's a really important culture, it's important to have the geek community as a whole think about its responsibility and what it can do," Berners-Lee said. "We need various alternative voices pushing back on conventional government sometimes."

And on a lighter note, when asked what he would have done differently when he created the Web, Berners-Lee said: "I would have got rid of the slash slash after the colon. You don't really need it. It just seemed like a good idea at the time."

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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