Tim Berners-Lee warns against governments controlling the Web

With NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in mind, Berners-Lee says the Web should be protected against control by governments and corporations.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
Tim Berners-Lee
Tim Berners-Lee Rafe Needleman/CNET

The so-called father of the World Wide Web wants to protect his child from governments and corporations.

Tim Berners-Lee was in the U.K. on Tuesday and was one of several people to receive the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering. At the event, the inventor of the Web was asked about the allegations made by Edward Snowden that governments are using the Web to tap into the communications of private citizens, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

In response, Berners-Lee said: "The original design of the Web of 24 years ago was for a universal space, we didn't have a particular computer in mind or browser, or language. When you make something universal...it can be used for good things or nasty things...we just have to make sure it's not undercut by any large companies or governments trying to use it and get total control."

Berners-Lee has been outspoken about the use and abuse of the Web. In January, he called on governments to release and share information online about health and safety issues that could benefit people. Last December, he rallied against proposals to change a 1988 document called the International Telecommunications Regulations that would have transferred power over the Internet away from independent bodies.