The man hailed as the inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee thinks the internet is broken and he has a plan to save it.
That plan involves a contract – specifically the Contract for the Web. This contract, says Berners-Lee, has been written by activists, academics, companies, governments and citizens over the last year.
At its core, the contract seeks to right many of the wrongs that have either already taken place through the web or may pop up in the future.
“The contract outlines steps to prevent the deliberate misuse of the web and our information. For example, it calls on governments to publish public data registries, so that they are no longer able to conceal from their own citizens how their data is being used. If governments are sharing our data with private companies – or buying data broker lists from them – we have a right to know and take action,” Berners-Lee wrote in a piece for The New York Times announcing the contract.
The contract is not just for governments. Berners-Lee hopes the contract also discourages clickbait and the spread of disinformation. In order to do this platforms would need to detail exactly how they deal with the risk of misinformation spreading like wild-fire.
Berners-Lee’s contract has the backing of governments from France, Germany, and Ghana. Tech giants Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Reddit and DuckDuckGo have also reportedly pledged support.
The contract sets out three core tenets for governments, companies and citizens.
For governments those include:
- Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
- Keep all of the internet available all of the time
- Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights
For companies the principles are:
- Make the internet affordable and accessible 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
Finally, citizens should:
- Be creators and collaborators on the web
- Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
- Fight for the Web
Each of these principles is explained in full over on the Contract for the Web website.
According to Berners-Lee the contract is already being used to inform policy decisions and as a tool by civil society, but that alone is not enough to seriously change the course of the web.
That of course requires serious action and taking this contract seriously.
We highly recommend giving the contract a thorough read-through to see how you can help make the internet a bit of a safer space for everybody.[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]