Launch of the Contract for the Web

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[Read more session reports and updates from the 14th Internet Governance Forum]

Mr Peter Altmaier (Federal Minister of Economic Affairs and Energy of Germany) introduced the session. Shortly after, a video showed how the Internet has changed the world.

Sir Tim Berners Lee (Founding Director of the World Wide Web Foundation) gave the audience a brief history of the World Wide Web, how it was conceived and developed from idea to implementation. He described the advancements and improvements to science and everyday life made possible by the Web. Berners Lee explained how the Internet was created as an open environment, not limited by state boundaries, but which now faced two unintended barriers: barriers of access and barriers of government censorship. He also talked about the dangers of private Internet companies failing to filter hate speech, which leads to polarisation and damage to democracy. Berners Lee approached other challenges the Internet currently faces: bullying, the gender gap, manipulation of data by companies and government, and misinformation. On the latter subject, he described how the Web can be abused and manipulated to spread misinformation. He then spoke about his idea of a contract for the Web: a global plan of action to protect and build the Web. It consists of nine basic principles and sets out new standards to ensure that everyone can connect to the Internet reliably, to ensure the protection of data, and to reduce online hatred by strengthening community-building online. The contract was created by experts and citizens from across the world to ensure that the online world truly serves humanity. At present, more than 160 organisations have endorsed it, including civil society organisations from Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas; and large and small companies, leaders and experts from around the world. Berners Lee stressed that governments, companies, civil society, and citizens, must all co-operate in this fight for the future. To close his speech, he invited everyone to re-tweet the launching tweet for the contract for the Web.

By Pedro Vilela

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