London: The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has called for a bill of rights in order to protect freedom of speech on the Internet.
Berners-Lee also said that there was a need for a charter like England's historic Magna Carta to help guarantee fundamental principles online. Web privacy and freedom have come under scrutiny since former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year leaked a raft of secret documents revealing a vast U.S. government system for monitoring phone and Internet data.
Accusations that NSA was mining personal data of users of Google, Facebook, Skype and other US companies prompted President Barack Obama to announce reforms in January to scale back the NSA programme and ban eavesdropping on the leaders of close friends and allies of the United States.
Berners-Lee said that it was time for a communal decision as he warned that growing surveillance and censorship, in countries such as China, threatened the future of democracy.
While acknowledging that the state needed the power to tackle criminals using the Internet, he has called for greater oversight over spy agencies such Britain's GCHQ and the NSA, and over any organisations collecting data on private individuals.
Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web Consortium, a global community with a mission to lead the web to its full potential, have launched a year of action for a campaign called the Web We Want, urging people to push for an Internet "bill of rights" for every country.
"Our rights are being infringed more and more on every side, and the danger is that we get used to it. So I want to use the 25th anniversary for us all to do that, to take the web back into our own hands and define the web we want for the next 25 years," concluded Berners-Lee