Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the father of the World Wide Web, on Monday laid out a global plan and called for action to protect the future of the web and prevent humanity from falling into a digital “dystopian”,media CNET reported. Berners-Lee first announced the plan at the 2018 Cyber Summit in Lisbon, which has been developed in the past year with governments, businesses and citizens.
The purpose of the “network contract” is to prevent the spread of the digital divide and to combat the worst aspects of the network in order to enhance and protect future generations. Just as contracts are an open source process involving all network stakeholders, the contract is designed to enable companies, politicians and everyday Internet users around the world to maintain contracts on an equal footing.
“The power of the Internet is to change people’s lives, enrich society and reduce inequality, and is one of the defining opportunities of our time,” Berners-Lee said in a statement. But if we don’t act now – act together – to prevent the network from being abused by people who want to exploit, divide and destroy, we run the risk of wasting that potential. “
The compact revolves around nine key principles that cover a wide range of issues affecting the web, from data abuse to Internet shutdowns. These are further divided into three categories, each undertaken by the Government, the Corporation and the citizen. They are as follows:
For the government
Make sure everyone can connect to the network
Always have access to the Internet for all
Respect and protect people’s online privacy and data protection rights
For the company
Making the Internet affordable for all
Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data
Develop the best technologies that encourage humanity and challenge the worst
Become the creator and collaborator of the network
Building strong communities that respect the voice and human dignity of citizens
Strive for the network to remain open
These principles seem to be somewhat repetitive, but the difference is the way in which they are upheld. Take the right to privacy and data protection, for example: for Governments, respecting and protecting these rights means enacting regulations and monitoring abuse, and ensuring that activities in the name of combating crime or protecting national security are proportionate. But for companies, respecting and protecting data rights and privacy can mean changing the tools, features, and policies built into their business models.
Other principles, such as being creators and collaborators or developing technologies that are beneficial to humanity, are easier to interpret and debate. But encouraging people to think about what it means is a key part of what Berners-Lee wants. “It depends on how we all fight for the network we want,” he says. “