Inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, would like your input on its future as he puts forward a draft “contract” for ensuring that it remains a force for good …

Berners-Lee first expressed his concerns about a “downward plunge to a dysfunctional future” on the 30th anniversary of his original proposal for what became the World Wide Web.

I think it’s been a force for good for the first 15 [years], and right now it’s really in the balance. I’m very concerned about nastiness and misinformation spreading. I think with a mid-course correction, the “contract for the web” is about: Let’s all stop this downward plunge to a dysfunctional future.

The inventor of the web backed calls then for a “contract” that would be agreed by governments, companies, and individuals alike, each promising to play their part in protecting and enhancing the future of the medium.

A first draft of the proposed contract has now been put online, calling for three commitments from each party.

Governments will

  • Principle 1 — Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
  • Principle 2 — Keep all of the internet available, all of the time
  • Principle 3 — Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights

Companies will

  • Principle 4 — Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone
  • Principle 5 — Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust
  • Principle 6 — Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst

Citizens will

  • Principle 7 — Be creators and collaborators on the web
  • Principle 8 — Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
  • Principle 9 — Fight for the web

The contract then gets into specifics for each of these. For example, for principle 8:

  1. Adopting best practices on civil discourse online and educating the next generation on these matters.
  2. Committing to amplify the messages of systematically excluded groups, and standing up for them when they are being targeted or abused.
  3. Taking steps to protect their privacy and security, and that of others, by choosing products and services thoughtfully, and expressing privacy preferences accordingly.
  4. Refraining from participating in the non-consensual dissemination of intimate information that breaches privacy and trust.

To have your say, you can complete the public survey here. Given that privacy is one of the core principles of the contract, the survey is anonymous.

No personal information (such as your name or address) will be collected, so no one can know that you participated in this survey. If you agree to participate, please answer all questions as truthfully as possible. You can choose to answer specific sections of the survey and do not have to complete the entire survey in order to submit feedback.

You can also choose to share your views in the comments here.

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Photo: Shutterstock

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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