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Web founder Berners-Lee launches scheme to ‘fix’ the internet

By Hugh Wilson

‘Contract for the Web’ to tackle fake news and threats to privacy

The creator of the World Wide Web has launched a scheme to “fix” the internet, asking governments, organisations and individuals to pledge to fight political manipulation, fake news and threats to privacy.

The World Wide Web Foundation, a non-profit campaign group set up by British computer scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee, has produced a Contract for the Web, which it describes as a “global plan of action to make our online world safe and empowering for everyone.”

The Contract includes separate pledges for governments, businesses and individuals. For example, governments have a duty to ensure everyone can connect to the internet, while companies need to respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data. Businesses should also “develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst”.

Launching the Contract, Berners-Lee said: “The power of the web to transform people’s lives, enrich society and reduce inequality is one of the defining opportunities of our time. But if we don’t act now – and act together – to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering that potential.”

The Contract for the Web already has the backing of over 160 organisations, including Microsoft, Google and Facebook.

Backers have to show they are working towards implementing the contract’s principles, or be removed from the list. Some may have work to do. Amnesty International recently accused Facebook and Google of representing an “unprecedented danger to human rights”.

FURTHER READING: Facebook drops appeal against Cambridge Analytica fine

FURTHER READING: Google latest tech giant to limit political adverts

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