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"For many years there was a feeling that the wonderful things on the web were going to dominate and we'd have a world with less conflict, more understanding, more and better science, and good democracy," Berners-Lee told the Guardian during the summit. "But people have become disillusioned because of all the things they see in the headlines." (Image: Web Foundation)

'Magna Carta for the Web': Read Tim Berners-Lee's Global Declaration for a Humane and Democratic Internet

"We've created something amazing together, but half the world is still not online, and our online rights and freedoms are at risk. The web has done so much for us, but now we need to stand up."

Jake Johnson

Warning that the web he helped invent in 1989 is "functioning in a dystopian way" due to extreme corporate concentration and paltry privacy safeguards for consumers, Tim Berners-Lee unveiled what he described as a "Magna Carta for the web" during the international Web Summit in Lisbon on Monday and urged all governments to support basic principles of internet freedom to ensure that the web serves "humanity, science, knowledge, and democracy."

"For many years there was a feeling that the wonderful things on the web were going to dominate and we'd have a world with less conflict, more understanding, more and better science, and good democracy," Berners-Lee told the Guardian during the summit. "But people have become disillusioned because of all the things they see in the headlines."

"Humanity connected by technology on the web is functioning in a dystopian way," Berners-Lee continued. "We have online abuse, prejudice, bias, polarisation, fake news, there are lots of ways in which it is broken. This is a contract to make the web one which serves humanity, science, knowledge and democracy."

Read the full contract below:

Contract for the Web

The web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. Everyone has a role to play to ensure the web serves humanity. By committing to the following principles, governments, companies and citizens around the world can help protect the open web as a public good and a basic right for everyone.

The Contract Principles are available to read in Español, Français, Português and عربى.

Governments will

Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
So that anyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can participate actively online.

Keep all of the internet available, all of the time
So that no one is denied their right to full internet access.

Respect people’s fundamental right to privacy
So everyone can use the internet freely, safely and without fear.

Companies will

Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone
So that no one is excluded from using and shaping the web.

Respect consumers’ privacy and personal data
So people are in control of their lives online.

Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
So the web really is a public good that puts people first.

Citizens will

Be creators and collaborators on the web
So the web has rich and relevant content for everyone.

Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
So that everyone feels safe and welcome online.

Fight for the web
So the web remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future.

We commit to uphold these principles and to engage in a deliberative process to build a full “Contract for the Web”, which will set out the roles and responsibilities of governments, companies and citizens. The challenges facing the web today are daunting and affect us in all our lives, not just when we are online. But if we work together and each of us takes responsibility for our actions, we can protect a web that truly is for everyone.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

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