Web creator Tim Berners-Lee launches contract for better Internet

Web pioneer wants new 'contract' for internet

Among those scheduled to speak at the event is Christopher Wylie, a whistleblower who earlier this year said users' data from Facebook was used by British political consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help elect US President Donald Trump - a claim denied by the company.

When the Web was created, Berners-Lee was clear in his ambition for it to be an open, free and ubiquitous platform for all.

He has just launched Inrupt, a start-up which is building an open source platform called "Solid" which will decentralise the web and allow users to choose where their data is kept, along with who can see and access it.

Berners-Lee is critical of the many issues plaguing the web, and says a contract might force private firms and governments to improve the health of the web.

"For many years there was a feeling that the wonderful things on the web were going to dominate and we'd have a world with less conflict, more understanding, more and better science, and good democracy", Berners-Lee told the Guardian. He is advocating that everyone sign his "Contract for the Web" which outlines a series of core principles promoting privacy protections and securing internet access for everyone.

The initiative has already secured 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.

Meanwhile, companies commit to making the internet affordable and accessible to all; respecting consumer privacy and personal data; and developing technologies that ensure the web is "a public good that puts people first". "We have fake news, we have problems with privacy, we have problems with abuse of personal data, we have people being profiled in a way that they can be manipulated by clever ads".

Various tech companies including Google and Facebook have come out in support for the contract.

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Despite the challenges, Berners-Lee said he was optimistic about the future of the internet.

Berners-Lee concedes it will be hard to measure the success of the contract, which will be promoted through a campaign called #ForTheWeb. But if anyone has a chance, it's Tim Berners-Lee.

The Contract for the Web isn't about (the concentration of power in big tech companies).

Its starter principles define the responsibilities that governments, companies and citizens each hold, to create a better web. Will it be persuasive enough for the Chinese government to be more open?

Roya Mahboob, founder of the Afghan Girls Robotics Club, said: "The contract for the web comes at a flawless time for women and girls around the world to speak truth to power, call out injustice and seize new opportunities".

So people are in control of their lives online.

"If we spend a certain amount of time using the internet we have to spend a little proportion of that time defending it, worrying about it, looking out for it..."

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