World Wide Web founder Sir Tim Berners-Lee has hit out at the UK government's plans to introduce supercharged surveillance powers and is urging the British public to fight back.
Berners-Lee's comments came just ahead of key surveillance elements of the US Patriot Act expiring, paving the way for a new USA Freedom Act.
The powers were temporarily suspended, partly thanks to a stand taken by Senator Rand Paul, who blocked attempts at an extension of the Patriot Act on Sunday.
The affected legislation consists of Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allowed for the bulk collection of US citizens' phone calls, and Section 206, which allowed US authorities to snoop on all phone and internet communications used by a suspect with a single warrant.
However, the Senate is expected to reinstate these elements by passing the USA Freedom Act, which will reinstate Section 215 in a watered-down form.
Privacy groups gave a muted reaction to the US government vote on ending the controversial bulk surveillance part of the Patriot Act, warning that there is still plenty of opportunity for snooping and mass data harvesting.
US Patriot Act is almost certain to expire in a few hours--an important symbolic victory, but almost all NSA mass spying will continue.— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 1, 2015
The UK government last week introduced the Investigatory Powers Bill, a souped-up version of the Snoopers Charter that will provide intelligence agencies with the means to "keep you and your family safe", and maintain "the ability of our intelligence agencies to target the online communications of terrorists".
The move will also allow for the tracking of everyone's web and social media use, forcing companies such as Google and WhatsApp to hand over encrypted messages.
David Cameron at the time said: "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: 'As long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.'
"It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance."
This message has worried Berners-Lee, who has said that Britons need to fight back to ensure that that beefed-up surveillance powers are not rushed into law.
“The discussion [in the Queen’s Speech] of increased monitoring powers is something which is a red flag … this discussion is a global one, it's a big one, it’s something that people are very engaged with, they think it’s very important, and they’re right, because it is very important for democracy, and it's very important for business," Berners-Lee said, according to The Guardian.
Berners-Lee has also called for the creation of a Magna Carta for the 21st century, enshrining a bill of rights for people's online lives.
"So this sort of debate is something that should be allowed to happen around legislation. It’s really important that legislation is left out for a seriously long comment period," he added.
"It has lost a lot of that moral high ground, when people saw that GCHQ was doing things that even the Americans weren't. So now I think, if Britain is going to establish a leadership situation, it's going to need to say: ‘We have solid rules of privacy, which you as an individual can be assured of, and that you as a company can be assured of'."
Berners-Lee has also hit out at Facebook's Internet.org programme, which recently faced criticism for violating net neutrality principals, telling those offered such a service to "just say no".
"In the particular case of somebody who’s offering … something which is branded internet, it’s not internet, then you just say no," Berners-Lee said.
"No it isn’t free, no it isn’t in the public domain, there are other ways of reducing the price of internet connectivity and giving something … [only] giving people data connectivity to part of the network deliberately, I think is a step backwards."
A new RSA report urges coders to sign a 'Hippocratic Oath' before embarking on AI programmes.
IT security vendor believes APT33 is working for the Iranian government
Darktrace pushes machine learning to take some of the pressure off of IT and security teams
Google also gets its hands on HTC's IP in a non-exclusive deal