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Tim Berners-Lee concerned by expanded snoopers’ charter

Tim Berners-Lee calls on government to prove it can build an electronic communication monitoring system that is accountable to UK citizens

The founder and inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, is calling for government accountability after it announced plans for an expanded snoopers’ charter.

The government plans to introduce legislation to “modernise” the law on communications data.

But many fear the Investigatory Powers Bill will expand the controversial electronic communications surveillance powers set out in the shelved Data Communications Bill.

The bill, dubbed the “snoopers’ charter”, required internet and other service providers to retain records of all communications for 12 months, including emails, web phone calls and use of social media.

The Conservative Party was forced to abandon the controversial bill in 2013 in the face of opposition from its Liberal Democrat coalition partner, but indicated it would revisit legislation to monitor electronic communications just hours after winning a majority in the 2015 general election.

At the opening of the Southbank Centre’s Web We Want Festival on 30 May 2015, Berners-Lee is expected to discuss his concerns that a new Investigatory Powers Bill will expand authorities' abilities to monitor citizens’ communications and online activities. 

He is expected to call on the government to demonstrate that it can build a system that is accountable to UK citizens, and one that ensures that when the security services look at private data, it is done with proper legal oversight.

As part of an ongoing campaign for a crowdsourced Magna Carta or bill of rights in the digital era, Berners-Lee is to lead a discussion at the Southbank Centre with leading figures, including former UK Digital Champion Martha Lane Fox and Twitter UK public policy head Nick Pickles. 

Read more about Tim Berners-Lee

Berners-Lee launched the campaign, which calls for a “free, open and truly global internet” to mark the 25th anniversary of his invention, in March 2014.

The Web We Want campaign, set up by the inventor’s World Wide Web Foundation, calls for the drafting of an “Internet Users Bill of Rights” for every country.

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