Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Industry | By Dora Warner

Web pioneer wants new 'contract' for internet

Web pioneer wants new 'contract' for internet

Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has launched a campaign to persuade governments, companies and individuals to sign a "Contract for the Web" set of principles created to defend a free and open internet.

He called on governments, companies and citizens to iron out a "complete contract" for the web that will make the internet "safe and accessible" for all by May 2019, the date by which 50 percent of the world will be online for the first time.

"All kinds of things have gone wrong".

But he said the internet was "coming of age" and going awry, with fake news and issues with privacy, hate speech and political polarisation, as well as a growing digital divide between those in richer and poorer countries.

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"It is an economy of addiction, like gambling or video games", said Mitchell Baker, the chairperson of the Mozilla foundation, she will also be invited to the Web Summit, in an interview with the AFP. Berners-Lee is against this, claiming that "if you sign up to the principles, you can't do censorship".

The foundation estimates that over 1.5 billion people now live in countries which has no concrete laws on personal data protection. The two tech giants now have direct influence over almost three quarters of all internet traffic thanks to the vast amounts of apps and services they own such as YouTube, WhatsApp and Instagram. All in all, he feels that the Internet has to be saved from itself - so Berners-Lee is now trying to rally companies, governments, and citizens to the cause.

Freeing constraints " We have big and small players, it's not the United Nations of the digital world, it's a call for voluntary engagement, for those who want to be part of the solution, whether they're part of the problem or not", the foundation's policy director, Nnenna Nwakanma, told AFP.

Some 70,000 people are expected to take part in the four-day Web Summit, dubbed "the Davos for geeks", including speakers from leading global tech companies, politicians and start-ups hoping to attract attention from the over 1,500 investors who are scheduled to attend.

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"This is also a great opportunity for us", Fuller told the Web Summit. The contract is based on a set of nine guiding principles, three from each sector - government, business, and people. For example, one principle holds that companies "respect consumers' privacy and personal data", which is a very noble goal that I wholeheartedly support - but one that's extremely hard to quantify and thus extremely tricky from a legal point of view. With such support, the Contract may just turn out fine.

Personal data isn't as valuable to companies as one might expect, he added. Those of us who are online are seeing our rights and freedoms threatened. The other reminds us that it can be hijacked by toxic actors looking to get away with (figurative) murder.

The contract has been seemingly created to rebuild trust in the web and defend a free and open internet by encouraging governments, companies and individuals to work together.

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