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Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has likened being forced offline to 'imprisonment' and attacked the Digital Economy Act’s lack of 'due process' Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has said “disconnection from the internet is a form of imprisonment”, and called the Digital Economy Act, which could allow families to be deprived of internet access, “worrying”.Speaking at an event to mark the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society in London, Sir Tim said there were global trends that were limiting the freedom of the internet.“Governemnts are granting themselves the right to turn of the internet,” he said, citing Britain’s Digital Economy Act, French moves to switch off a household’s web connection for a year if it is found to have been used twice to infringe a copyright, and a forthcoming American bid to censor which websites are visible to US citizens. Sir Tim claimed that a right to the freedom to access the internet could even be linked back to Magna Carta. “It is constitutionally serious to deprive someone from the web – it requires consideration in the law,” he said. “Magna Carta says that no free man shall be deprived of liberty without due process”.The way in which the Digital Economy Act will be enforced has yet to be established, and the Act is itself being challenged in court. But Sir Tim is among a number of experts concerned that internet service providers and copyright holders will be able to get people disconnected from the web simply by accusing consumers of breaking the law.“When you commit a crime you lose rights,” said Sir Tim. “If you think about the class of crime for which you’d be imprisoned, stealing a DVD for the first time would certainly not be one. Yet we’re talking about potentially disconnecting a whole family because a child has downloaded something. It seems to me to be unreasonable and impractical. The things which are being proposed at the moment are dangerously crossing the boundaries of people’s net rights.”