World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has declared government collection of data on citizens web surfing and telephony activities “a very bad idea” after outlining a scenario in which he feels national security could be compromised by caches of armed forces' members online activities.

Speaking in Sydney at the launch of Australia's new Digital Productivity and Services Flagship, a think tank designed to boost productivity through cunning use of technology, Berners-Lee suggested that if governments are allowed to track citizen's use of phones and the internet, foreign spies will find it an irresistible hacking target.

The UK and Australia are both considering collection of such data, the former through the Communications Data Bill while the latter conducts public consultation on the topic.

Berners-Lee said he supports governments' rights to protect themselves, but that collecting data on web and phone use would mean they hold “a dossier” on individuals.