Tim Berners-Lee, the man behind the worldwide web, has slammed ISPs planning to track consumers' browsing history using technology from Phorm, a company that monitors web activity to create personalised adverts.
"I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that's not going to get to my insurance company and I'm going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by five percent because they've figured I'm looking at those books," he told the BBC.
He also said his data and web history belonged to him. "It's mine – you can't have it. If you want to use it for something, then you have to negotiate with me," he said. "I have to agree, I have to understand what I'm getting in return.
"I myself feel that it is very important that my ISP supplies internet to my house like the water company supplies water to my house. It supplies connectivity with no strings attached. My ISP doesn't control which websites I go to, it doesn't monitor which websites I go to."
Phorm is the latest of many advertising-inspired web technologies to concern privacy activists. Last year, Facebook also attempted to introduce a personalised ad system – called Beacon – which identified users' habits in order to provide targeted ads.
However, the social-networking site later caved to users by announcing a new privacy control to allow users to turn off the controversial Beacon advertising system.
Facebook also came under heavy criticism from users and privacy advocates after a security researcher revealed that Beacon tracked user activities on third-party partner sites. The system captures data on what users do and buy on the external sites and sends it back to Facebook.
However, as well as tracking Facebook users, Beacon also tracked those who’d never signed up to Facebook and those who deactivated their accounts.