HTML5 'turns web pages into computers': Berners-Lee

World Wide Web founder sees new horizons with HTML5, but warns against government overreach.

In a brief appearance on BBC, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, said that HTML5 means significant design changes for the Web as we've known it.

HTML5 essentially means "every single web page out there, if you like, is like a computer," he said. "So you can program it to do whatever you want, and that's very powerful."

"When somebody designs a web page, up until now, historically, the web page was just a static document. It just had information on it. Nowadays, developers using websites can program them using HTML5," he added.

The web has been the catalyst for a tremendous surge of innovation, Berners-Lee told BBC. "People use this platform as the basis for tremendous creativity. There's incredible innovation happening out there, and people thinking of all kinds of amazing things, at any moment. The fact that the web is open, the fact that anybody can publish on it, is the key thing," he said.

The web is a liberating force, but, paradoxically, it also is a vehicle of repression as well. Berners-Lee has been speaking out against government regulation of the Internet. In the BBC interview, he cautioned: "There are governments or large companies who would really like to control the web. They'd really like to determine exactly what websites you go to. There's so much money in it."

Similarly, at a recent speech in Sydney, he warned against government attempts to capture and store the online data of private citizens. As reported by Stephen Hutcheon in The Age, he said, "...[stored] information is so dangerous, you have to think of it as dynamite." He added that this was a particular threat from any government, but was specifically addressing an Australian government data retention proposal, which would require internet service providers and telecommunication companies to store online data of all Australians for up to two years.

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