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Berners-Lee Urges Governments and Companies to Support Contract for the Web

Ross Kelly

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Contract for the Web

The Contract for the Web could be a powerful tool to hold companies and governments to account.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee has raised concerns over a growing ‘digital dystopia’ amid plans to launch an international crackdown on internet misuse.

The inventor of the world wide web is set to unveil new standards to crack down on electoral interference, hate speech, fake news and attacks on privacy rights.

Led by Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web Foundation has launched a Contract for the Web, which aims to encourage governments, private companies and the public to promote an open and safe internet.

More than 150 organisations, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Duck Duck Go, have pledged support for the contract, which sets out nine fundamental principles. The government’s of Germany, France and Ghana have also signed up to the Contract’s founding principles, the Foundation confirmed.

Key principles laid out in the Contract include respect for user data and privacy rights. Users should also be given greater control of their online lives and be offered “clear and meaningful” choices on their data privacy.

For companies, the Contract states that they must ensure affordable connectivity and accessibility for users around the world and protect the freedoms of people online.

Launching the Contract for the Web, Berners-Lee commented that governments, companies and web users have a “shared responsibility to fight for the web we want”, and urged a collaborative, outspoken approach to changing the status quo.

He said: “The power of the web to transform people’s lives, enrich society and reduce inequality is one of the defining opportunities of our time. But, if we don’t act now – and act together – to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering that potential.”

Brett Solomon of Access Now added: “Only through real commitment and concrete action from all members of the internet community – especially governments and companies – will we make the necessary reforms to put people and rights back at the centre of the internet.”

The Contract’s roadmap includes 76 individual clauses, some of which include responsibilities that government’s worldwide must adhere to.

These include ensuring that citizens can connect to the internet at all times – an issue which web users in a host of countries regularly contend with.

Most recently, citizens across Iran have been affected and left in the dark due to a mass-shutdown. The Iranian regime implemented a near-complete blackout of internet services across the Middle Eastern country following the outbreak of protests over petrol price hikes on 15th November.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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