Google and Facebook sign up to 'Contract for the Web'


"If you are a social networking company you make sure that (...) you allow people to control their data", he said in an interview ahead of the launch.

Berners-Lee has been hugely critical of Silicon Valley firms monopolising the web.

Tim Berners-Lee shared this new contract at Web Summit 2018 and it aims to protect the web as a public good and basic right for all.

"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.

Back in 1989, when the Web was first developed, Berners-Lee saw it as a pioneer for new horizons.

However, despite these efforts, Berbers-Lee insists that the world needs a "new Contract for the Web, with clear and tough responsibilities for those who have the power to make it better".

"We have become accustomed to having everything for free, and we have under-estimated the cost", he wrote last may in a mini-manifesto published by the New York Times, where he talks about the problems of the financial models of the major digital platforms, based on the advertising.

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Some 70,000 people are expected to take part in the four-day Web Summit, dubbed "the Davos for geeks", including speakers from leading global tech companies, politicians and start-ups hoping to attract attention from the over 1,500 investors who are scheduled to attend.

The French government and internet giants Google and Facebook back the principles of the proposed contract, such as respect for people's right to privacy and guarantees that everyone can connect to the internet, according to his Web Foundation.

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

Berners-Lee concedes it will be hard to measure the success of the contract, which will be promoted through a campaign called #ForTheWeb. "If you sign up to the principles, you can't do censorship", said Berners-Lee. "The contract seeks to get those wielding the most power online to commit to some boundaries in how they treat their users". The EU fined Google for $5.1 billion earlier this year. Will it be persuasive enough for the Chinese government to be more open? Accountability, he said, might involve an annual report that tests how different companies and governments are holding up.

Roya Mahboob, founder of the Afghan Girls Robotics Club, said: "The contract for the web comes at a ideal time for women and girls around the world to speak truth to power, call out injustice and seize new opportunities". He even said, "maybe it's a myth" regarding the idea that companies need that data to be profitable. "They don't want people to look back and say theirs was the platform that misled people to vote against their own best interests", he said.

"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..."