The Slatest

Tim Berners-Lee Calls for an Internet “Bill of Rights” on the World Wide Web’s 25th Anniversary

Ethernet cables lead to a server at the Rittal stand at the 2013 CeBIT technology trade fair on March 4, 2013 in Hanover, Germany.

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Today the world wide web turned 25-years-old and to celebrate founder Tim Berners-Lee took to traditional and new media alike to make his case for an Internet bill of rights. “Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it,” Berners-Lee told The Guardian. He went on:

“Unless we have an open, neutral internet we can rely on without worrying about what’s happening at the back door, we can’t have open government, good democracy, good healthcare, connected communities and diversity of culture. It’s not naive to think we can have that, but it is naive to think we can just sit back and get it.”

Berners-Lee, who has been an outspoken critic of government surveillance and corporate copyright theft regulation online, also took questions from the crowd on a Reddit “ask me anything” this afternoon. Some notables below:

Q: “Tim, What other names did you consider other than the world wide web?”
Berners-Lee: “Mine of Information, The Information Mine, The Mesh. None had quite the right ring.”

Q: “Did you ever think that the internet would get this big?”
Berners-Lee: “Yes, I more or less had it nailed down when it comes to the growth curve. I didn’t get it completely right — 25 years ago I was predicting Id be asked to do an AMA on reddit next wek, but it turned out to be this week. Well, we all make mistakes. (no of course not)”

Q: “Edward Snowden- Hero or Villain?”
Berners-Lee: “Because he ✓ had no other alternative ✓ engaged as a journalist / with a journalist to be careful of how what was released, and ✓ provided an important net overall benefit to the world, I think he should be protected, and we should have ways of protecting people like him. Because we can try to design perfect systems of government, and they will never be perfect, and when they fail, then the whistleblower may be all that saves society.”

Q: “What was one of the things you never thought the internet would be used for, but has actually become one of the main reasons people use the internet?”
Berners-Lee: “Kittens”

Q: “Did you ever post a picture of your cat?”
Berners-Lee: “Dog: Yes, Cat: No.”

Scan through the full AMA, which ranges from the humorous to the technical, for yourself here.

Elsewhere in Slate: The Internet Has Too Many Anniversaries