Internet founder speaks out against web tracking systems

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited as the inventor of the World Wide Web, has said that he would cancel his account with his web provider if it started to track his internet activity.

In an interview with BBC News, Berners-Lee said that consumers need to be protected against systems which track activity on the internet.

His comments will contribute to a growing sense of unease over leading internet service providers' plans to use a new system that will track their customers' usage of the internet to serve them personalised ads.

ISPs BT, Virgin and Carphone Warehouse's Talk Talk recently signed up to use Phorm's Open Internet Exchange system.

Berners-Lee told the BBC: "I want to know if I look up a whole lot of books about some form of cancer that that's not going to get to my insurance company and I'm going to find my insurance premium is going to go up by 5% because they've figured out I'm looking at those books."

He added that his data and web history belong to him.

Phorm chief executive Kent Ertugrul responded by saying that the company looked forward to explaining to Berners-Lee how its system worked.

He said: "Phorm protects personal privacy and unlike the hundreds of other cookies on your PC, it comes with an on/off switch."

Phorm and the ISPs will share the incremental revenue created by OIX.

The company is also offering a free service to customers of participating ISPs, called Webwise, which gives greater protection from online fraud by warning users if they inadvertently browse fraudulent websites -- sites that obtain sensitive information such as bank details.

A number of publishers and advertising agencies have partnered with Phorm for the launch of OIX, including, iVillage, Universal McCann and Unanimis.

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