Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the web, has called for more regulation to preserve the principle of net neutrality, the concept that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally. He has called upon service providers to self-regulate, but failing that he said governments must act. He is working with the UK government to negotiate an agreement on an open internet with service providers and content firms.
Berners-Lee cited the revolution in Egypt as demonstrating the importance of free access to the web, and told the BBC: “It’s such an empowering thing to be connected at high speed and without borders that it’s become a human right”.
The issue of net neutrality, already a major issue in US, has begun to move up the political agenda in the UK as well. The FCC rules adopted in December in the US did not stop ISPs from charging more for faster access, which some say creates a two-tiered internet.
Sir Tim does not take issue with traffic management, but says that any move to limit access to content, or only being able to access certain content through certain service providers is taking things too far. “What you lose when you do that is you lose the open market,” he said. “What the companies gain is that they get complete control of you.”
Others have worried about net neutrality regulations giving the government too much control over the internet, which poses its own set of dangers.