Daily Archives: December 11, 2014

World Wide Web inventor says Internet should be ‘human right’

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The computer scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web says affordable access to the Internet should be recognized as a human right, as a report showed that billions of people still cannot go online and government surveillance and censorship are increasing.

Tim Berners-Lee said Thursday the Internet can help tackle inequality – but only if it comes with the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. The Briton, who launched the Web in 1990, made the remarks as he released his World Wide Web Foundation’s latest report tracking the Internet’s global impact.

The Web Index found that laws preventing mass online surveillance are weak or nonexistent in more than 84 per cent of countries. It also said that almost 40 percent of surveyed countries were blocking sensitive online content to a “moderate or extreme degree,” and that half of all Web users live in countries that severely restrict their rights online.

Almost 4.4 billion people – most of them in developing countries – still have no access to the Internet, the Web Index said.

“It’s time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right,” Berners-Lee said. “That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring Internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live.”

Denmark, Finland, and Norway were ranked as top overall, meaning they were best at using the Internet for economic, political and social progress. At the bottom of a list of 86 countries were Yemen, Myanmar and Ethiopia.

Berners-Lee was working an engineer at the CERN laboratory in Geneva when he proposed the idea of a World Wide Web in 1989.

TIE

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Rajapaksa’s govt in Lanka loses two-third majority

Ahead of next month’s snap polls, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa today suffered another political setback as he lost his government’s two-thirds majority in Parliament after two ministers from parties representing Indian-origin Tamils defected to the opposition.

Palani Digambaram and V Radhakrishnan, both deputy ministers from parties representing Tamils of Indian-origin, said they were leaving the government to side with the opposition unity candidate Maithripala Sirisena.

Rajapaksa is seeking a record-third term after announcing snap polls set for January 8.

Rajapaksa’s ruling United People’s Freedom Alliance coalition had 161 seats in the 225-member assembly. The tally now stands at 149, a seat below the two-thirds parliamentary majority.

Since calling the election, the Sri Lankan president has suffered a loss of 13 defections so far, including five Cabinet ministers and three deputy ministers.

Rajapaksa, however, has been able to gain the support of the main opposition United National Party’s senior leader Tissa Attanayake who joined him on Monday.

Attanayake was unhappy with the UNP decision to back a unity candidate to challenge Rajapaksa.

Rajapaksa’s defectors are led by his former Health Minister Sirisena who is the opposition unity candidate.

Sirisena, who was a senior minister in the ruling coalition, defected to the opposition camp along with several other senior leaders of the ruling UPFA coalition last month.

The two-thirds majority in Parliament had enabled Rajapaksa to lift the two-term bar on contesting for the presidency.

The opposition have announced a plan for democratic reforms calling Rajapaksa’s administration authoritarian and family-centric.

The opposition unity candidate has pledged to abolish the system of executive presidency by forming a national unity government.

Rajapaksa called the election two years ahead of schedule in an apparent attempt to seek a fresh mandate before his party’s popularity tumbles further, after dropping over 21 per cent in September’s local elections.

DH

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