Tim Berners-Lee: Spies’ cracking of encryption undermines the web

Tim Berners-Lee is known as the gentle genius with the mild touch, a man who is strikingly modest despite having created one of the epochal inventions of the modern age, the world wide web. But get him on the subject of what the National Security Agency and its British equivalent, GCHQ, have been doing to crack encryption used by hundreds of millions of people to protect their personal data online, and his face hardens, his eyes squint and he fumes.”I think that’s appalling, deliberately to break software,” he says in an entirely uncharacteristic outburst of ire. Of all the reasons he is concerned about Edward Snowden’s disclosures relating to UK and US spying on the web – and there are many, as we shall see – it is the cracking of encryption revealed by the Guardian in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica that seems to rile him most.

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