Tim Berners-Lee, who proposed the creation of the internet 30 years ago, says governments must "translate" laws for the digital age to prevent malicious behaviour online.
In a speech today to mark the anniversary of his proposal, Berners-Lee, 63, is warning that tech giants should not be allowed to "pursue short-term profit" at "the expense of human rights and public safety".
He is speaking at London's Science Museum today and says that as well as making our daily lives easier, his invention has provided opportunities for scams and "those who spread hatred".
"Governments must translate laws and regulations for the digital age.
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"They must ensure markets remain competitive, innovative and open. And they have a responsibility to protect people's rights and freedoms online."
His intervention comes as the UK Government is due to unveil a White Paper setting out its plans to regulate tech giants and online harms.
The Daily Telegraph understands it is planning to impose a legal duty of care on tech companies to protect children, enforced by a new regulator.
In his speech, Berners-Lee identifies what he sees as the most "malicious" uses of the web, including state-sponsored hacking, viral spread of misinformation and harassment.
An Oxford graduate from London, he was a software engineer at the CERN particle physics laboratory in Geneva when he penned a paper setting out the ideas that would create the modern internet.
By the early Nineties, he had created the first website and released the technology into the public sphere.
He has never profited from his creation, saying that the invention would only truly benefit the world if people could use it royalty-free.