Berners-Lee: net neutrality takes “constant vigilance”

The net will need regulation to protect the ability to access any sites we choose, according to the inventor of the web.

Berners-Lee: net neutrality takes “constant vigilance”

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, speaking exclusively to PC Pro on the sidelines of a W3C conference in Oxford, said self-regulation by industry players would probably not be enough to protect net neutrality.

“I think that net neutrality is something where – it’s what that Harry Potter character is always saying – you need ‘constant vigilance’,” he said.

“In an ideal world, the internet industry will be very responsible and take to heart this fundamental right people have to connect to whoever they want, without being biased for commercial reasons… In an ideal world, industry would be self-regulating.

“At the moment, the press is crucial, looking out for violations and immediately jumping on them,” he added. “It’s possible this process of just holding them up for accountability [will be enough].”

However, he said if industry fails to behave, then countries will need to look to regulation, saying such potential laws could be modelled on those seeking to prevent discrimination.

“If you look at other non-discrimination rules, a lot of them have been put into law,” he said, noting it’s illegal to discriminate on grounds of gender, politics, sexual orientation or age.

“Lack of discrimination on the internet, as to who you’re able to communicate with, will probably have to end up in law – but we’ll see, it’s different in every country.”

Berners-Lee recently met with Government leaders to discuss the issue, calling for culture minister Ed Vaizey to create rules to protect net neutrality – shooting “down in flames” industry arguments that ISPs should self-regulate.

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