The creator of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee introduced the “Network Contract” – an action plan to protect the Internet from political manipulation, fakes, privacy violations and other harmful influences.A “contract for the Web” requires governments, companies, and individuals to make specific commitments to protect the network from abuse and ensure its benefits to humanity.
“The Web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. It has changed the world for good and improved the lives of billions. Yet, many people are still unable to access its benefits and, for others, the Web comes with too many unacceptable costs. Everyone has a role to play in safeguarding the future of the Web”, — declared in the “Network contract”.
The contract, on which 80 organizations have been working for more than a year, offers nine basic principles for network protection – three for governments, companies, and individuals. The Berners-Lee project was supported by more than 150 organizations – from Microsoft, Google and Facebook to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“Projects such as Wikipedia, OpenStreetMap, and open source software are all kinds of useful tools that I hoped to appear on the web. Meanwhile, reality is much more complicated. On the net, prejudices, hatreds and misinformation that are imposed on us destroy communities. The Internet is used to steal personal data, to intimidate and threaten, and bad people undermine democracy with the help of cunning digital tactics. We are at the point of no return. It depends on our response to these abuses whether the network will justify its potential as a global force that is good, or will lead us to digital dystopia” – says Tim Berners-Lee in a column for the New York Times.
Those who supported the contract must demonstrate the implementation of the principles and work on solving more complex problems or they will be excluded from the project.
The principles of the contract require governments to do everything possible so that everyone can connect to the Internet and ensure the confidentiality of their information. People should have access to their personal data that companies collect and have the right to object or refuse to process it.
Other principles oblige companies to make Internet access available and require them to develop web services for people with disabilities and those who speak minority languages.
Simplification of privacy settings is also required by providing control panels for accessing data and managing privacy settings. Companies need to consult with communities before and after the launch of new products and to assess the risk that their technology will spread misinformation or damage people’s personal well-being.