Sir Tim Berners-Lee, acknowledged as one of the creators of the
internet, has spoken out to favour of the principle of net neutrality.
He says that self-regulation might lead to commercial
interests taking precedence, and if this happened, governments should be
prepared to step in to ensure that the web remained freely accessible to all.
Sir Tim is working on behalf of the UK government on drawing
up an accord between service providers, such as Microsoft and AOL, and major
producers of content, including the BBC, CNN and other media companies.
But he suggests that, if such talks fail, the continued
impartiality of web services should be enshrined in law.
This would be resisted by ISPs, who claim that they need to
be able to regulate the continually growing amount of material published on the
worldwide web, especially since the explosion in social media and news feeds.
But some academics, such as Professor William Dutton of the
Oxford Internet Institute, believe that even involving the state in
safeguarding net neutrality could be dangerous: