A Contract for the Web
Tim Berners Lee launches Contract for the Web here. I hope that, if you are reading this blog, you have actually looked into what Contract for the Web is all about. Your first thoughts might be that it’s about ‘Nice’ people trying to achieve ‘nice’ things. You know, Parish councellors organising a litter pick up on News Years day. In fact it isn’t like that at all (or at least I am hoping it isn’t) . It is far more thought out than that, the contract is detailed, specific and, in large parts, measurable.
This last part is particularly important, because you know that initially everyone and their dog is going to sign up, at least in terms of governments that consider themselves democratic, and internet focused companies that want to publicize the fact that are Internet Friendly.
For the Contract to have any teeth, it has to be enforced. For it to be enforced you need to be able to demonstrate when someone (Government, Company, Individual) has breached the contract. To demonstrate that a breach has occured you need a defined framework against which conduct can be measured.
However, whilst having the contract specifics measureable is a pre-requisite of being able to enforce the contract. Of itself it is not enough. You need a policing agency to investigate posisible breaches, a judicary to decide if a breach has actually occured, and a proportionate consequence to breaching the code ( Reputational damage).
Early days, but let us hope that the Worlod Wide Web Foundation has the teeth to make this contract bite.
I have signed up to the contract. I would urge everyone to do likewise. I believe that we need to stop Governments using the web for control of information, from spreading disinformation and for using it to spy on individuals. We need it to stop companies becoming more powerful than countries on the back of providing conduits for spreading mis-information, hurtful content, and stealing and selling private information, and we need it to eliminate the vitriol of bigotry and racism that individuals feel justifed in terrorising others with because they hold different views, or are from different backgrounds.
Leopards and Spots
However I notice, with a great deal of sceptism, that Google and Facebook have already signed up. I suspect as well that they have made substantial donations to the foundation. Let’s see if these particular Leopards can change their spots. If not, we are back to enforcement, and which counts for more, the contract or the donations.