Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, so it’s safe to assume he knows what he’s talking about.
In a report published in the Guardian, Berners-Lee says that consumers should “just say no” to initiatives such as Facebook’s Free Basics (formerly known as Internet.org) because programs like that are not the full internet.
Berners-Lee was speaking at the Web We Want Festival in London’s Southbank. According to the Guardian, the Web We Want campaign promotes five key principles for the future of the web: Freedom of expression online and offline, affordable internet access, protection of user data and privacy, a decentralised internet infrastructure, and net neutrality.
Speaking about net neutrality in particular, Berners-Lee said: “I tend to say ‘just say no’” when it comes to compromising on it.
“In the particular case of somebody who’s offering … something which is branded internet, it’s not internet, then you just say no. No it isn’t free, no it isn’t in the public domain, there are other ways of reducing the price of internet connectivity and giving something … [only] giving people data connectivity to part of the network deliberately, I think is a step backwards.”
Free Basics is a initiative by Facebook that aims to bring the “next billion people online by providing them free access to a limited section of the internet. Critics have argued that this splits the open internet into free and paid tiers and goes against the concept of net neutrality, which says that all data on the internet should be treated equally.