The founder of the world wide web founder has sounded a warning about the dangers posed by governments intent on increasing the level of monitoring and filtering of the online activity of its citizens.Sir Tim Berners-Lee said that while it was important to fight serious organised crime and for a state to defend itself against serious cyber attack, there were enormous negatives associated with excessive government oversight of digital activity. “The whole thing seems to me fraught with massive dangers and I don’t think it’s a good idea,” he said in reply to a question about the Australian government’s data retention plan.Sir Tim was speaking at the launch of the CSIRO’s $40 million Digital Productivity and Services Flagship, a research facility focused on the digital economy and exploiting the full potential of the National Broadband Network.Under the proposal, internet service provider and telecommunication operators would be required to capture the online data of all Australians and store it for up to two years.”That [stored] information is so dangerous, you have to think of it as dynamite,” he said.He said while it was possible for a government to set up a watchdog to ensure that the stored information was not used, he was not yet aware of any government that had successfully introduced such a system.During his hour-long talk Sir Tim also raised a red flag about web filtering.“I have a worry that a government that is liable to take too much control; maybe to spy, maybe to block,” he said. “So beware of a government that has the ability to control why you see on the web.”His comments were made in the presence of the Communication Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, who was the architect of a controversial web filtering plan. The plan was officially put on the back burner late last year.The CSIRO centre is charged with helping the pubic and private sector to develop and deliver more efficient and innovative digitally-enhanced services by harnessing data.
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.