Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tim Berners-Lee: selling private citizens' browsing data is 'disgusting'; Guardian, April 4, 2017

Sam Thielman, Guardian; 

Tim Berners-Lee: selling private citizens' browsing data is 'disgusting'

"What did you think of the congressional repeal of Federal Communications Commission’s privacy rules?

It’s not the case that an ISP can just spy on people and monetize the data; if they do, they will get taken to court. Obviously the worry is the attitude and the direction. The attitude is really appalling. That bill was a disgusting bill, because when we use the web, we are so vulnerable.

When the internet was new, when people didn’t realize to what extent it would be important to people’s lives, I gave talks pointing out that, actually, when people use the web what they do is really, really intimate. They go to their doctor for a second opinion; they’ve gone to the web for the first opinion on whether it’s cancer. They communicate very intimately with family members that they love. There are things that people do on the web that reveal absolutely everything, more about them than they know themselves sometimes. Because so much of what we do in our lives that actually goes through those left-clicks, it can be ridiculously revealing. You have the right to go to a doctor in privacy where it’s just between you and the doctor. And similarly, you have to be able to go to the web.

Privacy, a core American value, is not a partisan thing. Democrats fight for it and Republicans fight for it too, maybe even more. So I am very shocked that the Republican party has managed to suggest that it should be trashed; if anyone follows up on this direction, there will be a massive pushback – and there must be a massive pushback!
If they take away net neutrality, there will have to be a tremendous amount of public debate as well. You can bet there will be public demonstrations if they do try to take it away."

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