Berners-Lee warns on data privacy

Berners-Lee warns on data privacy

Web histories should be kept private

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, father of the internet, has hit out at companies that try and sell customer’s browsing data.

In an interview with the BBC he was scathing about plans by some internet service providers (ISP) to sell their user’s browsing history to advertisers. Although the Phorm case was not mentioned by name he said that ISPs have no business assuming they had a right to sell personal internet-use logs.

"I myself feel that it is very important that my ISP supplies internet to my house like the water company supplies water to my house,” he said.

“It supplies connectivity with no strings attached. My ISP doesn't control which websites I go to, it doesn't monitor which websites I go to."

He said that if he had a choice he would change ISP as soon as such a monitoring system was put in place, since an individual’s web history was private property.

"It's mine - you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me. I have to agree, I have to understand what I'm getting in return."

Berners-Lee warned people that they should be careful of what they put online, as once it was up it would be available to everyone, including future generations.

Indeed, he said social networking sites aimed at a younger audience might soon be superseded by those aimed at older folk, who now had the technical ability to use them and the time on their hands to do so.