Privacy boundaries must be clearer for advertisers to get the most out of 'Big Data' says Sir Tim Berners-Lee

The founder of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has called for more transparency on how advertisers use consumers' personal information gathered through browsing and social media habits if ‘Big Data’ is to flourish.

Speaking at IP Expo Europe in London, the digital revolutionary called for more dissemination from brands and businesses ultimately sharing how they handle personal data, to give internet users control over their digital footprint.

Berners-Lee, who founded the web 25 years ago, said people should have full control of their own online data, stating that it should be theirs to sell if they choose to do so.

He said: “If we allow individuals to control and understand how their data is used, it will open up huge opportunities to build apps and make use of that data, as they'll be much more happy to open up that data for important benefits.

“I don't want companies to use medical data, for instance, to sell me insurance premiums - but if I'm in a car accident, I want my doctor to be able to access any data he needs instantly.”

The discussion eventually came around to privacy which the inventor asserted is not too much to ask for on the web.

He said: “People and companies function by having an information boundary, and the information within that boundary defines the group. That’s the way society works.

“The idea that privacy is dead is hopelessly sad. we have to build systems that allow for privacy.”

Last month, Berners-Lee called for an internet bill of rights designed to guarantee and outline how personal data should be treated by firms.

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