Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man credited with inventing the world wide web, has warned New Zealanders not to allow governments and companies to control the internet.
In a talk in Wellington on Wednesday the British computer scientist said the principal of net neutrality - the idea that all websites should be treated equally - should not be given up.
Sir Tim gave the example of a web provider making it easier to access a movie streaming service it owns or giving preferential treatment to one politician's website over another.
"You must not allow governments or companies to put a filter to put pink spectacles over the vision people have when they look at the web.
"If companies or governments get to control the internet they destroy it as the foundation for the way individual people find out about the world."
He said former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had shut off his country's internet during anti-government protests and citizens of other countries should fight to prevent the same thing happening.
Sir Tim told a 300-strong audience at Te Papa Museum that one solution could be to create a set of principles governing how politicians and business can control access to the internet.