Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, said the prevalence of the Web makes access to it a human right, during a speech at an MIT symposium. He compared Web access to water, something people cannot live without, according to Network World.

“It’s possible to live without the Web. It’s not possible to live without water,” he said. “But if you’ve got water, then the difference between somebody who is connected to the Web and is part of the information society, and someone who (is not) is growing bigger and bigger.”

Berners-Lee is one of the leading voices on net neutrality. He is an MIT professor and the director of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), an organization that sets standards for the Web, where he leads its Decentralized Information Group.

He explained net neutrality in an August 2006 video (watch it at the bottom of this article.) His premise was a concern that the debate on net neutrality could end freedom on the Web.

Net neutrality ties into whether companies can prevent users of their services from accessing services of their competitors. “We have had net neutrality in the past, and it’s only recently that real, explicit threats have emerged … Control of information is hugely powerful,” he said.

“In the U.S., the threat is that companies will control what I can access for commercial reasons. In China, the threat is the government controls access for political reasons,” Berners-Lee said.

In June, 2010, also at MIT, Berners-Lee stated that at the Web’s onset, he envisioned it to be much more sophisticated — a Semantic Web that would not only store data but also know the meaning of the data.

The difference is fundamental. The current Web functions like a big text file where users can search for specific words. A Semantic Web function more as a database where everything is categorized and “new queries can combine categories in any imaginable way,” according to an MIT News Office report.


Photo credit: originally posted to Flickr as Tim Berners-Lee. 20 January 2009.


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Joshua Philipp is the founder and editor of TechZwn.com. He's also an award-winning journalist at Epoch Times.

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