Web founder says Internet should be human right, criticizes government surveillance

Though most business and information is spread over the Internet, some people still lack access to it. Tim Berners-Lee, founder of the Web, says everyone should be able to make use of it.

Stefan Wermuth/Reuters
World Wide Web founder Tim Berners-Lee speaks during a news conference in London December 11, 2014. The inventor of the Worldwide Web said on Thursday access to the internet should be regarded as a basic human right and criticised growing censorship by governments and commercial manipulation. The World Wide Web Foundation created by Tim Berners-Lee said some 38 percent of states denied free internet use to citizens.

The inventor of the World Wide Web said on Thursday access to the Internet should be regarded as a basic human right and criticized growing censorship by governments and commercial manipulation.

The World Wide Web Foundation, created by Tim Berners-Lee, said some 38 percent of states denied free internet use to citizens.

Laws preventing bulk mass surveillance were weak or non-existent in more than 84 percent of countries, up from 63 percent in 2013, it said. Moderate or extensive censorship was seen in 38 percent of countries, up from 32 percent in 2013.

"It's time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right," he said in a statement.

"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."

The countries that scored lowest in allowing people to benefit from the Internet were Yemen, Myanmar and Ethiopia, while DenmarkFinland and Norway topped the rankings, which score access, freedom and openness, relevant content and social, economic and political empowerment.

Media reports based on previously top secret documents stolen by former National Security Agencycontractor Edward Snowden, a US citizen now living in Moscow, laid bare the extent of US and British surveillance, including demands spies made to telephone and technology companies.

Concerns have also been raised by some about monitoring of browsing patterns or manipulation by commercial organizations.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.