At an event to celebrate 20 years of the web, its inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called for governments and companies to limit the amount they snoop on web users.
Berners-Lee likened the web to a blank piece of paper, saying that governments and companies cannot not control what is written or drawn on the paper by people, so neither should they be able restrict how the internet is used by surfers.
"When you use the internet it is important that the medium should not be set up with constraints. The canvas should be blank," he said.
Berners Lee made his comments during a speech at an event that helped to launch the BBC Two series Digital Revolution, a series that intends to explore the history of the web.
Berners-Lee did admit, however, that the web should be policed for unacceptable use. He also warned that censoring the web would have "all kinds of pernicious effects".
"The trend over the years is that the internet in the end goes around censorship and openness eventually triumphs," he said. "But it is by no means an easy road."
Sir Tim also recommended that the web remains open and neutral.
"People in this room may have ideas that I've never thought of. It's important we nurture these people, these new ideas, we don't try to constrain them, and we make sure the internet is open and royalty free."
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