Tim Berners-Lee calls for Free Internet Everywhere

This is a very noble idea … but who pays for it?

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has used a speech at a Nokia conference in London to call for everybody worldwide to get free Internet access and at least a low bandwidth connection “by default”, as reported by the BBC.

In his call for free Internet access he highlighted the fact that just 20% of the world’s population currently has access to the web, and said that free unfettered access could be instrumental in giving people access to critical services such as healthcare.

“I would like to see people enrolled in a cheap data plan by default. I would like them to get it for free”  Sir Tim said during his speech.  “What about these people who have a signal but are not part of the web, who are not part of the information society?”

He went on to say that people could  ”create their own communities and share their own information” and suggested that network operators could indeed provide free connections on the basis that as people became more affluent, they would be prepared to pay for faster connections.

Dr Hamadoun Toure, the head of the UN’s International telecommunications Union, the United Nations body that oversees international telecoms, agrees with him.  In a recent interview with the BBC he said that free access to information should be a “universal Human right”.

Sir Tim also spoke about net privacy and neutrality, addressing concerns raised over the recent move by Google and others to create a “two-tier” Internet.  

“We assume that when you look up a [web page], that you can get any page because that is the way it has always been and that is why the web has flourished.  Of course a lot of companies would like to limit the pages you get.”  For example, he said, a firm that sells streaming movies may “like to slow down access to other people’s movies”.

Sir Tim has enormous influence and is a person that world leaders will listen to.  How successful his calls for a more open and accessible Internet are remains to be seen.

© Mike Halsey for gHacks Technology News, 2010. | Permalink | Add to del.icio.us, digg, facebook, reddit, twitter
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