World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee released an ambitious rule book for online governance — a bill of rights and obligations for the internet — designed to counteract the growing prevalence of such anti-democratic poisons as misinformation, mass surveillance and censorship.
The product of a year’s work by the World Wide Web Foundation where Berners-Lee is a founding director, the “Contract for the Web” seeks commitments from governments and industry to make and keep knowledge freely available — a digital policy agenda true to the design vision of the 30-year-old web.
The contract is non-binding, however. And funders and partners in the endeavor include Alphabet’s GOOGL, +0.93% GOOG, +0.88% Google and Facebook FB, +0.49% , whose data-collecting business models and sensation-rewarding algorithms have been blamed for exacerbating online toxicity.
“We haven’t had a fairly complex, fairly complete plan of action for the web going forward,” Berners-Lee said in an interview. “This is the first time we’ve had a rule book in which responsibility is being shared.”
For instance, the contract proposes a framework for protecting online privacy and personal data with clearly defined national laws that give individuals greater control over the data collected about them. Independent, well-resourced regulators would offer the public effective means for redress. Current laws and institutions don’t measure up to that standard.
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