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The web's inventor rallies Europe in support of net neutrality

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Tim Berners-Lee issues a timely reminder of the web's founding principles

Paul Clarke / Wikimedia Commons

There's only one person in the world that can begin a blog post with the words "when I invented the Web," and Sir Tim Berners-Lee has done it today in the aid of encouraging the adoption of EU-wide net neutrality rules. "My vision was that anyone, anywhere in the world could share knowledge and ideas without needing to buy a license or ask permission from myself or any CEO, government department or committee," says Berners-Lee. The web was deliberately built as "a neutral, creative and collaborative space," and he wants to see it continue as such.

The European Parliament has proposed a strong set of net neutrality regulations that would prohibit member states and companies operating within them from discriminating between various forms of internet traffic. In a guest post on EU Digital Single Market Commissioner Andrus Ansip's blog, Berners-Lee endorses that proposal, currently being reviewed by the European Council, and urges people to make their voices heard in support of the new law.

Though net neutrality has been a more contentious issue in American rather than European politics, it's not without its opponents in Europe — including German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggesting a two-lane internet may be necessary for future prosperity — but Tim Berners-Lee is uncompromising. He dismisses even the seemingly advantageous discrimination of allowing services like Facebook to be accessed for free on certain networks. Net neutrality means no distinction is made, whether positive or negative, between the various sources and destinations of traffic, which would ensure that we don't "hand immense power to telcos and online service operators" by turning them into internet gatekeepers.