The inventor of the world wide web has launched a damning attack on plans to spy on the internet browsing habits of millions of households.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee warned such technology was even more sinister than allowing companies to install TV cameras in our homes, and said the details revealed could be used by stalkers or foreign agents wanting to blackmail British politicians.
Internet providers BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media are all considering a system known as Phorm, which would track the web pages that their 11million customers look at.
The potentially lucrative system creates an anonymous profile of a surfer’s interests which is then used by retailers to target them with relevant adverts.
Phorm insists it is far less intrusive than the existing tracking and profiling of surfers by internet search engines such as Yahoo and Google. It says there is nothing to link a name or address to the profile and customers can also opt out.
However, Sir Tim, 53, told a Parliament summit on privacy laws: ‘It is very important that you can use the internet without a thought that, when we click, a third party will know what we clicked on in a way that might affect how our insurance premium changes, whether we can get life insurance or another job.’
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
The technical term for monitoring the details of individual’s web surfing is ‘Deep Packet Inspection’.