Sir Berners-Lee: Net neutrality may require laws

Fight for your right to browse
Fight for your right to browse

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the web, has spoken of his concerns over net neutrality given that the internet has 'become a human right'.

Referring to the recent uprisings in the Middle East and some governments' decisions to effectively 'turn off' the internet, Sir Berners-Lee spoke of the importance of access.

"It's such an empowering thing to be connected at high speed and without borders that it's become a human right," he said.


The idea of net neutrality is to preserve that access, with no restrictions on what people can use, find and consume online.

Largely, that's how the internet already works in the UK. But there is a concern that, if left to themselves, ISPs may control online traffic to the point where a tiered internet is created, where some users can access certain types of content, while others cannot.

"What you lose when you do that is you lose the open market. What the companies gain is that they get complete control of you," said Sir Berners-Lee, speaking to the BBC, adding that it would essentially commoditise the entire internet.

However, the ISPs say that they need to control online traffic due to the sheer enormity of people now using the internet.

Send in the lawyers

The UK government has tasked Sir Tim Berners-Lee with negotiating an agreement between the UK's ISPs and companies that create content to ensure that the internet stays 'open', in the UK at least.

Self-regulation has always been the preferred route for controlling net neutrality, but Sir Berners-Lee warns that we may have to turn to the law.

He said, "If it fails, the government has to be absolutely ready to legislate. It may be that the openness of the internet, we should just put into law."

From BBC

News Editor (UK)

Former UK News Editor for TechRadar, it was a perpetual challenge among the TechRadar staff to send Kate (Twitter, Google+) a link to something interesting on the internet that she hasn't already seen. As TechRadar's News Editor (UK), she was constantly on the hunt for top news and intriguing stories to feed your gadget lust. Kate now enjoys life as a renowned music critic – her words can be found in the i Paper, Guardian, GQ, Metro, Evening Standard and Time Out, and she's also the author of 'Amy Winehouse', a biography of the soul star.