Access to the Internet Should be Regarded as a Basic Human Right

Tim Berners-Lee
Inventor of the World Wide Web, Director of W3C

The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, said that access to the internet should be regarded as a basic human right. He also criticized the growing censorship by governments and commercial manipulation.

The World Wide Web Foundation, created by Berners-Lee, reported that about 38 percent of states denied free internet use to citizens.

With the internet, people are able to share almost anything. The growing internet has become a place of increasing surveillance, control and inequality. Both the government and companies are taking their own part in messing it up. Berners-Lee once said that the data created by a certain individual is owned by that individual, not by the government or large companies that harvests it.

While the web has enormous power to make people more equal, said the report backed Tim Berners-Lee, it's becoming increasingly possible that it will be used instead to "further concentrate economic and political power in the hands of the few."

"With surveillance and censorship, the equalizing power of the internet is reducing," said Berners-Lee.

It can only bring about social change "if we hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality into the rules of the game," he explained when launching the report.

Post-Snowden era, people are becoming increasingly aware about privacy on the internet. Both contributed to the cause of government and commercial entities. People behind them are monitoring patterns and online behavior to extract information they need.

Berners-Lee said the internet should be recognized as a human right and protected from commercial and political interference.

"That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of web users regardless of where they live."

There are many things about humanity that moves around the internet; from proper information to most despicable that most people would consider them a nightmare. The internet's use reflected the condition of mankind.

"Like all powerful tools, it can be used for good and evil, it can be used by good people and bad people," he said.

"When you look at the web you see humanity connected. Humanity has got some wonderful parts and some gruesome parts. You can't design an internet that will suddenly turn everybody into saints. What you can do is design an internet that is open."

The internet was invented with the help of U.S. state funding, but was spread by academics. Berners-Lee first proposed the World Wide Web in 1989.

"It was the academic community who wired up their universities so it was put together by smart, well-meaning people who thought it was a good idea," he said.

While the internet should be recognized as a human right, the report says that access is still far from universal.

The report found that laws preventing mass online surveillance are weak or nonexistent in more than 84 percent of countries. It also said that almost 40 percent of surveyed countries were blocking sensitive online content to a "moderate or extreme degree," and that half of all web users live in countries that severely restrict their rights online. The rest that have no concerns came from about 4.4 billion people - most in developing countries - that still have no access to the internet.