Sir Tim Berners-Lee is very well known. In-the-textbooks well known in fact, for inventing the world wide web. He has now launched a plan to build a “Contract for the Web”, as part of an overarching global campaign to defend a free and open web for everyone.
Tim Berners-Lee announced his intentions while speaking at the opening night of the Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon. While at the conference, Tim Berners-Lee unveiled a complete set of principles that can help define responsibilities that he hopes, will guide governments, companies and citizens towards creating a better version of the web.
The whole contract process and its starting principles have been published by Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation, and have already received backing from over 50 significant organisations. You can access the full list by clicking the link but they include the French government, Access Now, Digital Empowerment Foundation, Internet Sans Frontières, Project Isizwe and the NewNow, and a slew of powerful companies that include Google, AnchorFree, Cloudflare and Facebook.
Sir Richard Branson, US Congressman Ro Khanna, and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown have also pledged their support to the moment.
Speaking at the summit, Tim Berners-Lee said:
The web is at a crucial point. More than half the world’s population remains offline, and the rate of new people getting connected is slowing. Those of us who are online are seeing our rights and freedoms threatened. We need a new Contract for the Web, with clear and tough responsibilities for those who have the power to make it better. I hope more people will join us to build the web we want.
Berners-Lee also asked for the people to support the principles he has outlined and help build these into a full Contract for the Web that will be published in May 2019. In case you are wondering why May, 2019, that’s because it will mark the “50/50 moment” — when more than half the world’s population will finally be online.
The Case for the Web report which outlines these principles, also talks about the need for urgent action to combat a slew of issues including and I quote “hate speech, data privacy, political manipulation and the centralisation of power online among a small group of companies“.
Speaking on the topic, Adrian Lovett, President & CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation said:
For three decades we’ve seen the tremendous good that the web can deliver. As we work to expand its benefits to everyone, we need to make sure the web serves humanity, not the other way round. This can’t be accomplished by any one company or country alone. It’ll take all of us — debating, negotiating and collaborating to shape a better web.
You can read more about this in a report, titled The Case For The Web.