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Web Inventor Berners-Lee: The Hidden Cost of Mass Surveillance

By TechRepublic

December 12, 2014

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee this week discussed the need for governments to end mass online surveillance at the launch of a report from the World Wide Web Foundation on the state of the Web.

The group's latest annual Web Index report examined Internet policies in 86 countries and found weak to non-existent laws guaranteeing online privacy in 84 percent of them, up from 63 percent in last year's report. The report says the increase is in part due to new revelations about government spying activities that have revealed greater abilities on the part of governments to "circumvent due process and the rule of law," even in countries with privacy laws.

The report notes several countries are actively dismantling privacy safeguards, and cites as examples a new French law granting numerous agencies the power to snoop on French Internet users without judicial authorization and the U.K.'s Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Bill. The report says the general trend is toward "bulk collection of data in secret and by default."

The report also found online censorship on the rise, with moderate or extensive censorship efforts in 38 percent of countries.

Berners-Lee renewed his call for a bill of rights for the Internet that would guarantee users privacy, which he says is even more necessary in the era of the Internet of Things.

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