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Berners-Lee: Net snoop law tosses human rights into the shredder

Web grandfather slams UK.gov's online surveillance plan

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned the Tory-led Coalition not to push through a bill to legislate plans to massively increase surveillance of the internet.

In an interview with the Guardian, the world wide web inventor and "open data" advisor to the government urged the Home Office to drop the proposed law, which Theresa May unveiled in July last year.

As The Register has previously noted, such a plan to help security services in the UK monitor difficult-to-tap technology such as peer-to-peer communications has been in the running for some time.

The previous Labour government was forced to shelve its plans to bring in the so-called Interception Modernisation Programme (IMP) until after the 2010 General Election.

The Home Secretary effectively rebranded IMP to the Communications Capabilities Development Programme (CCDP) last year.

Only now are the likes of Berner-Lee starting to criticise such a plan, which is expected to be unveiled in the Queen's Speech next month.

CCDP has been described by the Home Office as an essential way of tackling perceived threats from rapidly evolving encryption and other technologies which have increasingly made it difficult even for government agencies to intercept voice and text mobile communications.

May has gone one step further than that by telling The Sun that such an interwebs snoop law would snare paedophiles and terrorists.

Berners-Lee told the Graun that he was concerned that such legislation could prove to be a "destruction of human rights".

He warned that such data from internet monitoring, if it fell into the wrong hands, could be devastating for an individual's privacy. Apparently, the plans are keeping him awake at night.

The Greatest Living Briton opined:

The idea that we should routinely record information about people is obviously very dangerous. It means that there will be information around which could be stolen, which can be acquired through corrupt officials or corrupt operators, and [could be] used, for example, to blackmail people in the government or people in the military. We open ourselves out, if we store this information, to it being abused.

Berners-Lee urged the government to consider creating a "very strong independent body" to oversee any such net-snooping law. He added that the bill, in its current form, needed to be "stopped".

In a separate confab with the Gruan, Berners-Lee reiterated his dislike of internet silos created by Facebook, Apple and so on.

He said: "One of the issues of social networking silos is that they have the data and I don't ... There are no programs that I can run on my computer which allow me to use all the data in each of the social networking systems that I use plus all the data in my calendar plus in my running map site, plus the data in my little fitness gadget and so on to really provide an excellent support to me." ®

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