Last week, the U.S. Senate voted 50 to 48 to take away the privacy rights of Internet users, a successful first step for continued deregulation of the internet sector, with the end goal being ISP providers being able to sell their customers’ browsing history and habits.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Turing Award winner and the creator of the world wide web, has criticized recent attempts by U.S. lawmakers to roll back internet privacy laws.
The change in legislature would allow one’s personnel browser history to be viewed and sold to advertising companies and other special interest groups without their knowledge or consent.
Many have come out against the move, with Sir Tim Berners-Lee being the latest to join the growing crowd of disgruntled internet users. The first man to launch a website as well as develop several of the world wide web’s protocols and coding, such as HTTP or HTML, Berners-Lee is a respected computer scientist who still has a strong voice within the internet community. Appearing in front of the media after accepting this year’s Turing Award, for “major contributions of lasting importance to computing”, the sector’s equivalent of a Nobel Prize, Sir Tim Berners-Lee was vocal about the need for internet privacy:
“When we use the web, we are so vulnerable. There are things that people do on the web that reveal absolutely everything, more about them than they know themselves sometimes. Because so much of what we do in our lives that actually goes through those left-clicks, it can be ridiculously revealing. You have the right to go to a doctor in privacy where it’s just between you and the doctor. And similarly, you have to be able to go to the web.”
He went on to criticize U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle for not setting up more of a fight to protect people’s privacy, and pointed out several trends that were severely damaging the value and quality of the internet. Amongst those trends featured clickbait, intrusive advertising and political partisanship, all of which Sir Tim Berners-Lee criticized for not bringing any added value to the internet, but rather, tarnishing it.
This latest attempt by ISP providers to monetize their customers’ data was described as “really appalling” by the 51 year old computer scientist, and warned internet users that they were in danger of losing their privacy should politicians and businesses continue to take advantage of their legislative powers. Berners-Lee, like many other important figures within the movement, encouraged people to fight for their rights and let their local politician know their feelings regarding their attempts to roll back the internet privacy laws.