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Internet inventor defends online privacy

The creator of the world wide web, believes that data should belong to individuals, not corporations. “When you read big data pieces in a magazine, it’s about how big companies are spying on you,” Sir Tim Berners-Lee said at IP Expo Europe this week. “What are these people going to do with that data? They’re going to target you with an ad, which makes you feel queasy.”

And targeted ads are not necessarily the future, he claims, because our data isn’t as valuable to the big companies as it is to us. All of the information harvested by wearables and other smart devices paints a picture of the user; not just their likes and dislikes, but their habits, their preferences, their history. Why shouldn’t the originator of all that information be the one who sees the benefit?

Berners-Lee posits a radical new approach, with autonomy over this data at its core: “I would like us to build a world in which I have control of my data. I can sell it to you and we can negotiate a price, but more importantly I will have legal ownership of all the data about me… We will be able to write really neat applications that take data from all the different parts of my life, and my friends’ lives and my family’s lives, and really help me live life in a more healthy way.”

Instead of harvesting our online identities for data which they can use and sell, Berners-Lee believes that companies should be working harder to protect user privacy, and build trust, in order for users to then feel comfortable sharing their own information voluntarily. “Some people say privacy is dead,” he says. “I don’t agree with that. Privacy is very important

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