The Internet community was shaken to its very core last week when it was revealed that the NSA may have tapped into data servers belonging to Google, Yahoo and more. The revelation caused some to say that this was not what the founders of the Internet would have wanted. One of them couldn’t agree more.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man widely considered to be the father of the World Wide Web, has come out strongly against PRISM and other forms of surveillance. He told the Financial Times that programs like PRISM threaten democracy:
“Unwarranted government surveillance is an intrusion on basic human rights that threatens the very foundations of a democratic society. Over the last two decades, the web has become an integral part of our lives. A trace of our use of it can reveal very intimate personal things. A store of this information about each person is a huge liability: Whom would you trust to decide when to access it, or even to keep it secure?”
This isn’t the first time that Berners-Lee has said a controversial program threatened democracy. While speaking at SXSW earlier this year, he said that the Copyright Alert System (a.ka. Six Strikes) threatened democracy by putting enforcement of the law in the hands of private corporations instead of the people.
Of course, PRISM is far more disturbing than the CAS based solely on how secret it is. Everything pertaining to the program, including potential abuses, is kept hidden away from the public in secret FISA courts. When asked about the program, Congress says everything must be kept secret for a similarly secret reason. The only thing we can ever get out of them is that terrorists are scary, and that a little less privacy is a small price to pay to make sure the scary bad men don’t get us.
Berners-Lee is not the only one major player coming out swinging against the NSA. Over the weekend, Sen. Rand Paul announced his intentions to sue the NSA over the leaked spy programs. He hopes to take it all the way to the Supreme Court to have it declared unconstitutional.[h/t: Wired UK]