We missed this earlier
Tim-Berners Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, officially launched the Contract for the Web, a set of principles designed to fix the internet and “put people and rights back at the center of the internet”. Launched on November 23, the contract enlists nine principles for governments, companies, and citizens to adhere to, including affordable and accessible internet, respecting privacy and personal data protection, respecting civil discourse and human dignity, and to “keep all of the internet available, all of the time”. The contract has around 300 signatories, including tech giants Google, Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and DuckDuckGo, Electronic Frontier Foundation, GitHub, among others. The contract had 160 backers at its launch. The governments of Germany, France and Ghana signed up to the Contract’s founding principles.
We’re at a tipping point. How we respond to this abuse will determine whether the web lives up to its potential as a global force for good or leads us into a digital dystopia.
— Tim-Berners Lee, in the New York Times
The contract’s launch comes at a time when concerns about privacy and online safety have increased, and tech companies face widespread scrutiny from governments, and face threat of regulation. The contract includes 72 clauses alongside its nine principles.
A year ago I called for governments, companies & citizens to come together to protect the web as a force for good.
Today, we launch the Contract for the Web — the first global plan of action to build the #WebWeWant.
— Tim Berners-Lee (@timberners_lee) November 25, 2019
It lays down significant emphasis on accessibility to the internet, with Access Now’s Brett Solomon pointing out that “we have seen the damaging effect of internet shutdowns around the world”. The contract says that companies must “make connectivity affordable and accessible to everyone, and to protect and respect the rights and freedoms of people online”. The contract’s signing seems timely, as the Indian government has deprived Jammu & Kashmir of internet services for over four months now, and the people of the union territory — erstwhile a state — get kicked out of WhatsApp groups since their accounts have been inactive for over 120 days. Governments in Iran and Iraq have also shut down the internet countrywide to contain protests.
It’s not that we need a 10-year plan for the web, we need to turn the web around now,” Berners-Lee told The Guardian.
The nine principles are:
- Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
- Keep all of internet available, all of the time
- Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights
- Make the internet affordable and accesible to everyone
- Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust
- Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
- Be creators and collaborators on the Web
- Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
- Fight for the Web