The Contract for the Web Is Tim Berners Lee’s Ultimate Attempt To Change The Web For Good

contract for the web tim berners lee

The Contract for the Web comes almost a year after the announcement delivered at the Web Summit in Lisbon, where Tim Berners Lee spoke for the first time of his ambitious project.

Its name is Contract for the Web and consists of a global plan of action created by experts and citizens to make the online world safe, empowering, and genuinely for everyone.

What is the Contract for the Web?

The Contract for the Web is a collaborative effort by representatives from over 80 organizations as governments, companies, and associations. The Contract promotes full internet access, Data Rights, and tools to protect the Web from abuse.

The Contract for the Web can be recognized as an ethical internet manifesto, which Berners-Lee felt urgent to write with the direct and indirect help of other organizations active in the field of human and digital rights. The Contract is not a first, because it is grounded in existing human rights law and international frameworks.

It is a compendium that collects the achievements already reached in the definition of a fair internet ecosystem. It also sets itself the ambitious goal of extending the use of the internet by containing the flow of hate, misinformation, and unhealthy political use that is taking the net.

Who is the Contract For?

The Contract is divided into three sections that address a specific kind of entity: Governments, Companies, and Citizens. Each section has three principles to follow, for a total of nine principles.

The Contract for the Web’s 9 Principles

The Principles have been thought as guidelines for Governments (1-3), Companies (4-6), and People (7-9):

  1. Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
  2. Keep all of the internet available, all of the time
  3. Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights
  4. Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone
  5. Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust
  6. Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
  7. Be creators and collaborators on the Web
  8. Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
  9. Fight for the Web

Next Steps: the Roadmap Outlined by The Contract

The government’s commitment is first and foremost to make sure that anyone can connect to the internet. The Contract establishes three clear objectives to be achieved by governments in the next decade: 

  1. 1 GB of mobile data must not cost more than 2% of the average monthly income by 2025
  2. Access to broadband internet must be available for at least 90% of citizens by 2030, and that the gap to this goal will be halved by 2025
  3. by 2025, at least 70% of young people over the age of 10 and adults over the age of 65 will need to have information and communication technology skills.

Governments will also have to encourage the spread of network infrastructures for non-competitive areas actively, and consequently make sure to apply policies aimed towards the ones who have been systematically excluded from access to the network.

Companies will have to pay attention to develop growth plans that do not exclude minorities, also creating accessible interfaces for individuals with disabilities. They must also guarantee the control and security of the personal data of users using people using their platforms, reducing as much as possible the collection of the information collected.

In addition to the big names of Silicon Valley, like Google, Facebook, and Microsoft, other companies have decided to share and support the principles of the Contract. Among them, the search engine DuckDuckGo, Reddit, and GitHub, as well as Twitter.

Who is Tim Berners Lee

In the laboratories of Cern in Geneva, the World Wide Web was born by an intuition of the English scientist Tim Berners-Lee. The idea was to create a system to manage and share the large mass of information produced by researchers, to exchange data from one computer to another. Berners-Lee developed the invention as a free tool that changed the lives of billions of people. 

On March 12, 1989, thirty years ago, Berners-Lee presented the project to his supervisor for the first time, with a document that is currently on display at CERN. Only two years later, on August 6, 1991, the inventor published the first website. The computer scientist is considered one of the most influential people of the last century. He won the Millennium Prize and the Turing Prize.

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