Tim Berners-Lee, the man who is credited with inventing the internet, recently launched a campaign in an attempt to save the internet from the destructive effects of abuse, of discrimination, and any other threat that currently seems to be plaguing the online world.
A couple of weeks ago, during a talk at the opening of the Web Summit in Lisbon, Berners-Lee called for the governments, the companies, and even the individuals to support his new “Contract for the Web” that plans on protecting human rights and freedoms online.
This new contract that he proposed, outlines some central principles that are going to be then built into a complete contract which will be published in May, next year when around half of the total population of the world will be able to go online. Over 50 organizations have already backed his contract, which was published by his World Wide Web Foundation, along with a report that’s calling for immediate action.
According to Berners-Lee, for a long time, he, and many others believed that the internet is going to dominate the world and that there was going to be a lot less conflict, a lot more understanding. In the beginning, people believed that thanks to the internet, there would be a better democracy and even better science. Unfortunately, people have recently become disillusioned, because of all the bad things that they constantly see in headlines, which has led to the internet functioning in a dystopian manner. Nowadays, there is online abuse, bias, prejudice, fake news, polarisation. And with the contract, Berners-Lee aims to make the web a place that’s going to serve humanity, knowledge, science, and democracy, like he originally believed it would.
Within this contract, that Berner-Lee calls a “Magna Carta for the web”, all the world’s governments have to ensure that each citizen can have access to the entirety of the internet, any time they want and that the privacy of everyone is respected. But on the other hand, the contract also acknowledges that each user has their own part to play, and is asking for people to make the content that fills the internet to be relevant. The contract states that people need to build communities that are going to respect human dignity and civil discourse and that they should all fight for an open web, that will be a “global public resource” for people all over the globe.