Berners-Lee: US Congress should back net neutrality

Timothy Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has called on the US Congress to protect net neutrality and has also questioned the value of digital rights management.

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Timothy Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, has called on the US Congress to protect net neutrality and has also questioned the value of digital rights management.

Berners-Lee, speaking before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet in the US House of Representatives on 1 March, said it was "very, very important" for lawmakers to protect the ability of users to access the Web content they want regardless of their Internet service provider.

Berners-Lee didn't endorse specific net neutrality proposals largely supported by Democrats in the Congress, but he said the Web as a communications medium deserves "special treatment" to protect its non-discriminatory approach to content.

While he was growing up in Britain there were high penalties for interfering with mail delivery, because mail was one of the main ways to communicate, Berners-Lee said. Now, the Web is a major communications medium worthy of similar protection, he said.

One company or country shouldn't control access to the Web, he added.

"We are a society only in as much as we are individuals communicating," said Berners-Lee, founder of the World Wide Web Consortium and author of the first version of HTML.

For the past two years, many e-commerce companies and consumer groups have called on the US Congress to pass a law prohibiting broadband carriers from blocking or slowing Web content from competitors or from speeding up partners' content.

Broadband providers and many Republicans have opposed a net neutrality law and efforts to pass one failed in a Republican-controlled Congress in 2006. Democrats took over Congress this year.

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