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The inventor of the world wide web (WWW) has waded into the debate on net neutrality, claiming that the principle is fundamental to the success of the internet.

According to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who back in 1990 made the first successful communication between an HTTP client and server via the internet, all web traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers (ISPs).

Speaking at the Nokia World 2010 event, he said that failing to protect net neutrality could signal the death knell for the web in its current form.

Sir Tim commented: "You lose something essential - the fact that any innovator can dream up an idea and start a website at some random place and let it take off through word of mouth.

"You can end up helping humanity and make a profit out of it once you have a domain name."

Relaxing net neutrality could allow broadband providers to prioritise certain web traffic, based on a pay-per-use model for additional bandwidth.

Some ISPs have argued that with data use increasing, it is essential to move to market-based approach where consumers and businesses are able to choose the product best-suited to their needs.

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