Sir Tim Berners-Lee has called for governments and companies to limit the amount they snoop on web users.
Berners-Lee likened the web to a blank piece of paper, saying that governments and companies cannot not control what is written or drawn on the paper by people, so neither should they be able restrict how the internet is used by surfers.
"When you use the internet it is important that the medium should not be set up with constraints. The canvas should be blank," he said during the launch of Digital Revolution, a new BBC Two series that intends to explore the history of the web.
Berners-Lee did admit, however, that the web should be policed for unacceptable use. He also warned that censoring the web would have "all kinds of pernicious effects".
"The trend over the years is that the internet in the end goes around censorship and openness eventually triumphs," he said. "But it is by no means an easy road."