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Jimmy Wales, Tim Berners-Lee slam UK's internet snooping plans

Wikipedia co-founder Wales has come out against the UK government's draft Communications Data Bill, while inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee has raised concerns about legislation that allows the government to gather data on its citizens.
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Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

Jimmy Wales has publicly voiced his opposition to the UK government's draft Communications Data Bill.

Jimmy Wales
Jimmy Wales. Image: Wikipedia

The bill, which was put before parliament earlier this year, forces internet service providers to retain data on all online communications made by UK citizens, including SMS, Facebook and Twitter messages.

Wikipedia co-founder Wales, who gave evidence to a parliamentary select committee on the bill on Wednesday, described the legislation as "technologically incompetent", and said it would lead to more people turning to encryption to avoid being tracked.

"It is not the sort of thing I'd expect from a western democracy. It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the Chinese and it would be detected immediately by the internet industry," he told MPs and peers, according to The Guardian.

Wikipedia will begin encrypting its connections should the bill be made into law, the paper reports.

TBL concerns

Inventor of the web Tim Berners-Lee has also expressed his fears over legislation that allows Whitehall to gather greater amounts of information on citizens.

"It is the kind of thing I would expect from the Iranians or the Chinese and it would be detected immediately by the internet industry" — Tim Berners-Lee

Berners-Lee told The Times: "In Britain, like in the US, there has been a series of bills that would give government very strong powers to, for example, collect data. I am worried about that."  

The UK was rated third in Berners-Lee's Web Index, unveiled yesterday, which ranks 61 countries around the world according to the impact and reach of the internet. 

Should privacy-threatening bills make it through parliament, they could affect the UK's standing in the rankings, according to Berners-Lee.

"If the UK introduces Draconian legislation that allows the government to block websites or to snoop on people, which decreases privacy, in future indexes they may find themselves farther down the list," he said at the launch of the index.

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