The free and open web faces real challenges. More than half the world’s population still can’t get online. For the other half, the web’s benefits come with too many risks: to our privacy, our democracy, our rights. That’s why we’re launching a global campaign to connected everyone to a web that works for people.
Our founder and web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee launched the campaign today at the Web Summit in Lisbon, announcing a new “Contract for the Web”. He shared starter principles for the contract, defining responsibilities that governments, companies and citizens each have to create a better web.
Now we’re calling for people to support these principles and get involved in a process to build them into a full Contract for the Web that will be published in May 2019 — the “50/50 moment” when more than half the world’s population will be online.
Speaking from the Web Summit, Berners-Lee said:
“The web is at a crucial point. More than half the world’s population remains offline, and the rate of new people getting connected is slowing. Those of us who are online are seeing our rights and freedoms threatened. We need a new Contract for the Web, with clear and tough responsibilities for those who have the power to make it better. I hope more people will join us to build the web we want.”
The Contract for the Web launched with high-level backing from over 50 organisations, including the French government, civil society organisations such as Access Now, Internet Sans Frontières, Project Isizwe, NewNow and the Digital Empowerment Foundation, as well as companies including Google, AnchorFree, Facebook and Cloudflare.
The push comes amid a growing awareness of the risks posed by digital technologies. We launched a report, The Case for the Web, as part of our campaign, outlining the urgent action needed to tackle these risks, covering issues including hate speech, data privacy, political manipulation and the centralisation of power online among a small group of companies. The report reveals that more than 1.5 billion people live in countries with no comprehensive law on personal data protection, leaving them particularly vulnerable to increasingly common incidents involving breaches of personal data.
Adrian Lovett, Web Foundation President & CEO said:
“For three decades we’ve seen the tremendous good that the web can deliver. As we work to expand its benefits to everyone, we need to make sure the web serves humanity, not the other way round. This can’t be accomplished by any one company or country alone. It’ll take all of us — debating, negotiating and collaborating to shape a better web.”
The ambition to build a Contract for the Web recognises that the challenges facing the web demand commitments from a range of actors, from the companies building web technologies to the policymakers defining laws and regulations, and the billions of people using the web every day.
You can join our campaign #ForTheWeb by signing up to back the Contract Principles at fortheweb.webfoundation.org.
If you would like to sign on behalf of your organisation or governments, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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