Contract for the Web

Yesterday we, S4 as a company, signed the Contract for the Web.

“It took all of us to build the web that we have. It will take all of us to secure its future.”

We believe in many kinds of sustainability, not just environmental but ethical as well, which is why we are making this commitment. It’s not legally binding but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t something we take very seriously, unlike some large companies who have signed up and then ignored the basic principles – I’m looking at you Facebook and your targeted political advertising.

So, what is the Contract for the Web and what is it for?

It’s an initiative put together by the World Wide Web Foundation and headed up by Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the internet. The point is really very simple, it’s a set of safeguards, a moral compass for the internet and an attempt at addressing things like political manipulation, fake news, invasions of personal privacy and many similar things that make the internet a much darker place than it needs to be.

“The Web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. It has changed the world for good and improved the lives of billions. Yet, many people are still unable to access its benefits and, for others, the Web comes with too many unacceptable costs.”

The contract sets out nine principles to be followed. Three for governments, three for companies and three for individuals. Like most of these kind of contracts or declarations, i.e. the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these are all simple and clear things that should be obvious and inarguable to anyone with a sense of morality, but seem never actually to be.

We can’t do much about the governmental principles, apart from agree with and lobby for them. The principles for both companies and individuals we can and will follow though, this is what we pledge by signing this contract:

  • 4: Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone
  • 5: Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust
  • 6: Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
  • 7: Be creators and collaborators on the Web
  • 8: Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
  • 9: Fight for the Web

The internet has changed the world in more ways and faster than any other invention in history, it is the greatest tool for democratising, sharing knowledge and empowering all groups of society BUT only if we take care of it in the right way.

We suggest everyone takes a look at the Contract for the Web. Sign up if you agree with it and intend to follow these principles, but at least take a few minutes to read through and understand the need even if you don’t.

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