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Tim Berners-Lee condemns NSA and GCHQ data spying as Intelligence heads go before Parliament

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As the sheer scale of governmental intrusion, surveillance and monitoring continues to emerge, the founder of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee has condemned the behaviour of governments as they subvert the free space of the internet.

He weighed into the debate as the three heads of British intelligence, MI5, MI6 and GCHQ prepared to go before parliament's intelligence and security committee. Malcolm Rifkind, the head of the select committee, not known for his fearless inquisitions of the establishment, has promised to use new powers to scrutinise their behaviour and hold them to some degree of oversight. That of course remains to be seen.

In an interview with the Guardian, Berners-Lee expressed outrage that GCHQ and the NSA had found ways to undermine and penetrate data encryption . He views it as not only a betrayal of the technology industry, but felt it went against the stated aims of fighting cybercrime.

He said "In a totalitarian state where it reckoned it was the only strong state in the world, I can imagine that being a reasonable plan. But in this situation, internet security is hard. It's naïve to imagine that if you introduce a weakness into a system you will be the only one to use it. Any democratic country has to take the high road; it has to live by its principles. I'm very sympathetic to attempts to increase security against organised crime, but you have to distinguish yourself from the criminal."

Of Edward Snowden he had this to say "Civilisation has to a certain extent depended on whistleblowers, and therefore you have to protect them”m adding that while he had suspected some taps on electronic communication, he " didn't realise it would be so big,"

He called for a full and frank public debate and made the underlying point about the power of the internet to connect and advance humanity.

"When you take away the safe space, you take away a lot of the power of human problem solving," he warned.

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