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Tim Berners-Lee speaks out against U.K. surveillance bill

The inventor of the World Wide Web says that the British government's plan to let intelligence agencies scrutinize residents' Internet use could lead to the "destruction of human rights."

Tim Berners-Lee at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in 2009.
Rafe Needleman/CNET

The man credited with inventing the World Wide Web has come out against the British government's contentious plans to monitor all Internet communication.

In an extensive interview with U.K. newspaper the Guardian, Tim Berners-Lee said the type of surveillance that the government was proposing was tantamount to the "destruction of human rights" and "the most important thing to do is to stop the bill as it is at the moment."

The plan being pushed by the government, which was announced this month, entails British intelligence agencies observing every U.K. resident's Internet use, including e-mail, social media, Skype calls, and all sites they visit.

Berners-Lee, an adviser to the government, told the Guardian the danger with this bill is that intimate information could become more vulnerable to theft or release by corrupt officials.

"The idea that we should routinely record information about people is obviously very dangerous," he said. "It means that there will be information around which could be stolen, which can be acquired through corrupt officials or corrupt operators."

Over the years, Berners-Lee has repeatedly said that he is wary of governments and massive Web companies, like Google, Apple, and Facebook, having control of individual's information on the Internet. He believes that the Web needs to be free, open, and neutral.

According to the Guardian, the British government intends to continue pressing for the surveillance bill to be passed.

"The amount of control you have over somebody if you can monitor Internet activity is amazing," Berners-Lee warned. "You get to know every detail, you get to know, in a way, more intimate details about their life than any person that they talk to."