Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir Tim Berners-Lee denies Internet 'off-switch'

The inventor of the World Wide Web has denied there is an 'off' switch that could turn off the Internet across the globe.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the Web on Christmas Day 1990, said the only way the Internet could ever be entirely shut down is if governments all over the world coordinated to make it a centralised system.

It comes after moves by the Egyptian government last year to suppress use of the Web, which led to speculation that the Hosni Mubarak regime had found a 'kill' switch for the Internet.

"The way the Internet is designed is very much as a decentralised system," the computer scientist said.

"At the moment, because countries connect to each other in lots of different ways, there is no one 'off' switch, there is no central place where you can turn it off.

"In order to be able to turn the whole thing off or really block, suppress, one particular idea, the countries and governments would have to get together, agree and coordinate and turn it from a decentralised system to being a centralised system.

"And, if that does happen, it is really important that everybody fights against that sort of direction."

Sir Tim was speaking at the launch of the first ever global league table classifying countries that put the Web to work best, the Web Index, at the National Theatre in central London.

Sweden has topped the Web Index league table, launched by the World Wide Web Foundation, followed by the US in second and the UK in third.

Nepal, Cameroon and Mali were the bottom three of 61 countries measured using indicators such as the political, economic and social impact of the Web, connectivity and use.

Asked about rumours that he himself was one of a handful of people who had the ability to switch off the net, Sir Tim joked: "I am afraid that now that you know that I will have to shoot you.

"I have put on filters, which allow me to investigate every single word that any of you have said to each other.

"You won't know what is happening but as you talk to each other it will be quietly modified to appear to be whatever I want you to be saying.

"I will take a deep control of the world. Apart from that, everything will remain as usual."

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