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OMG! Berners-Lee has an iPhone

Anti-iTunes web daddy still hates proprietary tech

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RSA Europe Sir Tim Berners-Lee surprised assembled hacks when he turned up to a press roundtable at the RSA conference on Thursday with an iPhone.

Berners-Lee notably singled out Steve Jobs' iTunes for criticism over its use of proprietary technologies a year ago, but he was happy to use the Jesus Phone despite these reservations. The Reg understands he also owns an Android smartphone.

During a question-and-answer session with journalists, Berners-Lee was asked about recent suggestions by WIPO boss Francis Gurry that the internet would have enjoyed better investment if the web had been patented.

If web users had been obliged to pay a licence fee (via a "flexible licensing model") then more money would have been available for investment in the internet and basic research, Gurry argued at the launch of the Global Innovation Index back in June.

Berners-Lee was dismissive of the idea: "It's the most uninformed and unimaginative idea I've heard in a long time."

The web succeeded where Gopher, which romped across networks in the early 1990s, withered and died, because of the possibility that a small charge might be applied for use of Gopher.

"CERN choose not to charge royalties for the web and it's only because it was that open then we've seen incredible growth, and increases in efficiency, on top of it," said Sir Tim.

"The licensing idea would have left us stuck in the days of dial-up and walled gardens," he concluded.

Berners-Lee expressed great enthusiasm for web apps and a future featuring user-owned pieces of cloud. Asked about what he felt were the greatest security issues on the net, Sir Tim said that this wasn't his field of expertise but said that "as a user" he was "amazed" that secure, encrypted email exchanges using PKI technologies had not become the norm. ®

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