Sir Tim Berners-Lee told BBC Breakfast the issue could be compared to the importance of human rights.
He has been an outspoken critic of government surveillance following a series of leaks from ex-US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
Sir Tim called on people to take action and protest against surveillance.'Communal decision'
He told BBC Breakfast the online community has now reached a crossroads.
"It's time for us to make a big communal decision," he said. "In front of us are two roads - which way are we going to go?
"Are we going to continue on the road and just allow the governments to do more and more and more control - more and more surveillance?
"Or are we going to set up a bunch of values? Are we going to set up something like a Magna Carta for the world wide web and say, actually, now it's so important, so much part of our lives, that it becomes on a level with human rights?"web page" /> Looking at the world's first web page shows how much has changed online The NeXT cube machine on which Sir Tim designed the world wide web Sir Tim took part in the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games
Sir Tim said the internet should be a "neutral" medium that can be used without feeling "somebody's looking over our shoulder".
He called for vigilance against surveillance by its users, adding: "The people of the world have to be constantly aware, constantly looking out for it - constantly making sure through action, protest, that it doesn't happen."
Sir Tim has previously warned that surveillance could threaten the democratic nature of the web.
He has also spoken out in support of Mr Snowden, saying his actions were "in the public interest".Continue reading the main story Browser favourites The BBC website and Facebook are the UK's most popular sites, according to a survey of 2,001 adults The poll for internet registry firm Nominet, found 24% of people chose Facebook as their favourite website The BBC was second, with 20% choosing the site Amazon was third with 9% Gmail and Yahoo were both chosen by 5% of those polled
The idea that the world wide web would end up playing such a huge role in people's lives would have seemed "crazy" 25 years ago, said Sir Tim.
He admitted that the web represented "humanity connected", involving both the "wonderful" and the "ghastly".
But he added: "I don't have a lot of sympathy with people who say: 'There's so much rubbish on the web.'
"Well, if there's so much rubbish, if it's rubbish, don't read it. Go read something else."