The man who invented the internet has warned governments not to engage in "insidious" online spying.
Briton Tim Berners-Lee said it was "clear" that Western nations were "seriously spying on the internet", The Times reported.
His outspoken comments come amid a global outcry over the surveillance activities exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Speaking as he and five colleagues were recognised by the Queen for their pioneering working in helping to create the internet, Berners-Lee said: "In the Middle East, people have been given access to the internet but they have been snooped on and then they have been jailed.
“Obviously, it can be easy for people in the West to say, ‘oh, those nasty governments should not be allowed access to spy’.
"But it’s clear that developed nations are seriously spying on the internet.”
He also suggested that people using the internet in important "intimate" ways would be unwilling to do so "if they feel there’s somebody looking over their shoulder.”
Sir Tim, Robert Kahn, Vint Cerf and Louis Pouzin were jointly awarded the inaugural £1 million Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering during a glittering Buckingham Palace reception attended by the leaders of the three main parties - David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband.
The Queen described how their achievements had "completely changed" aspects of modern life and hailed engineering as the "noble profession".
Asked to comment on Snowden's claims, Berners-Lee added: "When you make something universal...it can be used for good things or nasty things...we just have to make sure it's not undercut by any large companies or governments trying to use it and get total control."
During the presentation ceremony, The Queen said: "The Internet and the World Wide Web have brought the world and its people together in ways we could not have imagined 60, or even 30, years ago."