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Tim Berners-Lee says government snooping threatens future democracy

The internet pioneer said there is a growing tide of "surveillance and censorship".

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Web creator Sir Tim Berners-Lee has warned that government surveillance and censorship will threaten the democratic nature of the web.

Berners-Lee made his comments as his World Wide Web foundation (WWWF) released its annual web index report, tracking global censorship.

The report, which points out how the internet is helping much of the world and ranks countries in terms of the social and political impact of the web, finishes by calling for an urgent review around the current legal framework on government snooping.

"One of the most encouraging findings of this year's web Index is how the web and social media are increasingly spurring people to organise, take action and try to expose wrongdoing in every region of the world," said Berners-Lee.

"But some governments are threatened by this, and a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy. Bold steps are needed now to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and association online."

The latest report found that web blocking and snooping are both on the rise.

"Targeted censorship of web content by governments is widespread across the globe. Moderate to extensive blocking or filtering of politically sensitive content was reported in over 30 percent of web index countries during the past year," it said.

"Legal limits on government snooping online urgently need review. Ninety-four percent of countries in the Web Index do not meet best practice standards for checks and balances on government interception of electronic communications."

In the report, the UK and US were both criticised for government snooping online. Meanwhile, Sweden and Norway took first and second positions respectively for their levels of openness. 

Internet pioneer Berners-Lee, who strongly supports the leaking of the the NSA revelations by Edward Snowden, is also calling for government's to release more publicly held data so that the public and software developers can use it to help fight poverty, boost innovation, empower citizens and reduce corruption.  


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