Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, has come out in support of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, saying that the PRISM surveillance program leak did the world a favor. As a guest editor on the BBC’s Radio 4 Today program, Berners-Lee called Snowdwn a “really important part of the system.”

Just how exactly does Snowden fit into this designation? It wasn’t an easy choice. While acknowledging that it’s not easy to sympathize with someone who has broken the law, Berners-Lee thinks that there needs to be an internationally-recognized checklist to establish whether there was anything else that Snowden could have done.

Included in this idea are two principles: were there other channels he could have pursued? Likely not, as Berners-Lee says Snowden probably would have been caught and the information he had would never have been revealed.

In addition, has he done it as a journalist or with a journalist to ensure that the data has been carefully selected and redacted so as as not to cause unnecessary harm to individuals and the public?

In Berners-Lee’s opinion, Snowden fits the bill and therefore has become an important part of the effort to protect the Internet and his concept of the open Web.

See related: Edward Snowden calls for a restoration of privacy in Channel 4′s Alternative Christmas Message

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