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Web inventor warns of 'dark' net

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5009250.stm Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK Web inventor warns of dark net By Jonathan Fildes BBC News science
    Message 1 of 1 , May 23, 2006
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      http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/5009250.stm

      Tuesday, 23 May 2006, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
      Web inventor warns of 'dark' net
      By Jonathan Fildes
      BBC News science and technology reporter in Edinburgh

      The web should remain neutral and resist attempts to
      fragment it into different services, web inventor Sir
      Tim Berners-Lee has said.

      Recent attempts in the US to try to charge for
      different levels of online access web were not "part
      of the internet model," he said in Edinburgh.

      He warned that if the US decided to go ahead with a
      two-tier internet, the network would enter "a dark
      period".

      Sir Tim was speaking at the start of a conference on
      the future of the web.

      "What's very important from my point of view is that
      there is one web," he said.

      "Anyone that tries to chop it into two will find that
      their piece looks very boring."

      An equal net

      The British scientist developed the web in 1989 as an
      academic tool to allow scientists to share data. Since
      then it has exploded into every area of life.

      However, as it has grown, there have been increasingly
      diverse opinions on how it should evolve.

      The World Wide Web Consortium, of which Sir Tim is the
      director, believes in an open model.

      This is based on the concept of network neutrality,
      where everyone has the same level of access to the web
      and that all data moving around the web is treated
      equally.

      This view is backed by companies like Microsoft and
      Google, who have called for legislation to be
      introduced to guarantee net neutrality.

      The first steps towards this were taken last week when
      members of the US House of Representatives introduced
      a net neutrality bill.

      Pay model

      But telecoms companies in the US do not agree. They
      would like to implement a two-tier system, where data
      from companies or institutions that can pay are given
      priority over those that cannot.

      This has particularly become an issue with the
      transmission of TV shows over the internet, with some
      broadband providers wanting to charge content
      providers to carry the data.

      The internet community believes this threatens the
      open model of the internet as broadband providers will
      become gatekeepers to the web's content.

      Providers that can pay will be able to get a
      commercial advantage over those that cannot.

      There is a fear that institutions like universities
      and charities would also suffer.

      The web community is also worried that any charges
      would be passed on to the consumer.

      Optimism

      Sir Tim said this was "not the internet model". The
      "right" model, as exists at the moment, was that any
      content provider could pay for a connection to the
      internet and could then put any content on to the web
      with no discrimination.

      Speaking to reporters in Edinburgh at the WWW2006
      conference, he argued this was where the great benefit
      of the internet lay.

      "You get this tremendous serendipity where I can
      search the internet and come across a site that I did
      not set out to look for," he said.

      A two-tier system would mean that people would only
      have full access to those portions of the internet
      that they paid for and that some companies would be
      given priority over others.

      But Sir Tim was optimistic that the internet would
      resist attempts to fragment.

      "I think it is one and will remain as one," he said.

      The WWW2006 conference will run until Friday at the
      International Conference Centre in Edinburgh.
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