[LINK] Web inventor denounces net censorship
Tue, 10 Oct 2000 23:24:58 +1100 (EST)
As part of their 'Special report: free speech on the net', The
Guardian/Observer (UK) has the article below along with a section
called 'Regulating the net' at
Web inventor denounces net censorship
John Arlidge, media correspondent
Sunday October 8, 2000
On the tenth anniversary of the creation of the internet, the British
scientist who invented the world wide web has called for the
abolition of censorship online. As parents' groups and politicians
press for new ways to police websites, Tim Berners-Lee rejects
censorship as 'horrific'.
In an exclusive interview with The Observer , Berners-Lee dismisses
the recent outcry over paedophiles targeting youngsters in web
chatrooms, child pornography and fraud, and rejects calls for a 'net
regulator'. 'I know there are some very strong feelings but you can
not banish technology or regulate content.
'Regulation is censorship - one grown-up telling another what they
can and cannot do or see. For me, the idea is horrific. Universality
is the key. You must be able to represent anything on the web.'
Illegal material - child pornography, 'video nasties' - should remain
illegal, but he insists 'the world is a diverse place and we should
trust people, not try to police them... There are many cultures and
they are continually changing. What somebody in Tennessee might think
of as reasonable when it comes to nudity is very different from what
someone in Finland might think.
'Two neighbours next door to each-other might have very different
ideas. So any attempt to make a global centralised standard is going
to be unbelievably contentious. You can't do that.'
Instead of regulation it is up to parents to 'catch up' with the new
e- generation and teach youngsters how to use the web safely.
Children are at risk because they are 'technologically ahead of most
grown-ups, who have to ask the younger generation how to turn the
thing on and get it working. Adults are slower than children. They
need to catch up so they can teach their children what to see and
what to avoid.'
Ten years ago Berners-Lee wrote the electronic code that enables
computers across the world to 'talk' to each-other down a telephone
line. The internet was born and has grown from a single website to
more than 800,000,000, with e-commerce, chatrooms and email
transforming the way we work, shop, do business, socialise and relax.
The Manchester-born scientist has been hailed as 'the man who
invented the future'. A decade on he says we are still 'just
scratching the surface' of what the internet can do. 'The web is far
from done. Just imagine you were back in the Middle Ages and somebody
asked "Given the full impact that paper is going to have, where will
we be?" That's where we are.'
He describes the future as 'the semantic web... a new, more powerful
interactive network that will really enable e-commerce and industry
to hum. But I don't want to say more or everyone will jump on the
bandwagon and that will wreck it.'
He says his creation is 'progressing remarkably well... it's neat. It
is an achievement of a group of people who had a twinkle in their eye
about a possible future. We should celebrate the fact that we can
change the world by creating a new social tool. It gives a great
feeling of hope that we can do it again.'
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