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Contract for the Web

Topics Covered:

Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


Contract for the Web


What to study?

For Prelims: What is World Wide Web? How is it regulated?

For Mains: Overview and significance of the contract.


Context: Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has announced a “Contract for the Web” — aimed at saving the future of his invention.


What is the Contract for the Web?

The idea is to create a global plan of action for all stakeholders to together commit to building a “better” Web. The goal is to create a standard policy for a Web that benefits all.

The Contract consists of nine principles — three each for governments, private companies, and individuals and civil society to endorse.

It has been created by representatives from over 80 organisations, including governments, companies, civil society activists, and academics.


What are the principles in the Contract?

  1. Governments will “Ensure everyone can connect to the Internet”, “Keep all of the Internet available, all of the time”, and “Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights”.
  2. Companies will “Make the Internet affordable and accessible to everyone”, “Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust”, and “Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst”.
  3. Citizens will “Be creators and collaborators on the Web”, “Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity”, and “Fight for the Web” so that it “remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future”.


Relevance of the contract:

The Contract is not meant to be “simply aspirational”, or just a “declaration”. “It’s actually meant to be implemented, and it’s meant to be a plan of action.

Governments who are looking to regulate in the digital era, can use the contract as a roadmap to lay out their policies and laws going forward.

Companies had themselves reached out to be active participants in the Contract. This was an opportunity for them to have conversations with governments and civil society instead of shouting at each other.


How will the Contract be implemented?

The ‘Contract for the Web’ is not a legal document, or a United Nations document — though the organisation is in talks with the UN. It cannot currently bend governments or companies — even those that are on board — to its will.


Need of the hour:

  • The Web, which is now almost an essential condition for human existence, is at a tipping point and needs radical intervention from all stakeholders — governments, companies, civil society groups, as well as individual users.
  • Citizen action is an important part of the Contract, and the organisation hopes citizens would hold governments and companies accountable for violations of its terms.


Sources: Indian Express.