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Internet is neutral and shouldn’t be controlled by governments: Sir Tim Berners Lee

“While online data and access to it would bring about transparency and could restrain government corruption, it is important to progress towards the idea of internet as a neutral media and it should not be controlled by large corporates or governments or an international court. Internet is like a tree, cut a branch and the entire system would suffer. Similarly, cut internet, people and corporations and businesses would suffer,” Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web has said.

“While online data and access to it would bring about transparency and could restrain government corruption, it is important to progress towards the idea of internet as a neutral media and it should not be controlled by large corporates or governments or an international court. Internet is like a tree, cut a branch and the entire system would suffer. Similarly, cut internet, people and corporations and businesses would suffer,” Sir Tim Berners Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web has said. Sir Lee was speaking at the India Today Conclave 2011 in a session titled The Digital Debate: Information Revolution or Revelation held at New Delhi on 18 and 19 March 2011.

Sir Lee further said that though internet allowed the user to be anonymous and same right to anonymity could also be abused and used for spying, to control and for commercials gains, it was equally important for a society. Sir Lee felt that it is increasingly necessary for people across the world to consider access to the internet a right as much as any other civil right.

Highlighting the point on how internet can be used for devising and executing revolutions, Wael Ghonim, the spearhead of internet revolution in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak, said that information is a revolution and recalled how technology not only provided a platform for millions of Egyptians. “Even before Tahrir Square, we all wanted change, but we disagreed on how to go about achieving this. Facebook gave us a platform on which we began with one simple idea of marching together silently in black for one hour. We also used Facebook to democratise the movement,” added Ghonim.

According to Ghinom, there is no mainstream media anymore and people are the media now. “Khalid Saeed was an Egyptian youngster who was tortured by the police and was dead. Facebook saw people joining the sentiment and raise voice against police. People realised that they are not speaking with zombies online but with people who were real and that was the key reason why people connected to that page. Last year I was made fun of when I spoke about power of internet and now I feel that Egypt’s next president will be elected based on the digital campaign. Internet was a tool that facilitated the collection of ideas and increased political awareness,” Ghonim added.

Serial hacker Josh Klein was of the opinion that rather than competing and regulating the internet organisations should look to embracing it. Citing examples of how data made available over the internet can help the people, Klein said that in the company that runs the New York’s underground rail could not create an application of alerting users to train timings or the expertise. So it put all its data online and once this was done, several applications were created using this information.

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