The document, published by Berners-Lee’s Web Foundation, has the backing of more than 150 organisations, from Microsoft, Twitter, Google and Facebook to the digital rights group the Electronic Frontier Foundation. At the time of writing, Amazon had not endorsed the principles.
Those who back the contract must show they are implementing the principles and working on solutions to the tougher problems, or face being removed from the list of endorsers. If the stipulation is properly enforced, some may not last long. A report from Amnesty International accuses Google and Facebook of “enabling human rights harm at a population scale”. The report comes weeks after Google was found to have acquired the personal health records of 50 million Americans without their consent.
The contract’s principles require governments to do all they can to ensure that everyone who wants to can connect to the web and have their privacy respected. People should have access to whatever personal data is held on them and have the right to object or withdraw from having that data processed.
It is a fallacious western construct to “think about global problems and their solutions”. Sincere efforts can be translated into action only if they work locally with a universal appeal. For example, climate change remains a contentious issue, but cancer prevention has a clear path- exercise. Do we see widespread adoption? No.
Therefore, I was mildly amused by this effort to create a “collective” to stop “fake news”. Regular news outlets spout their divisive agendas. One way out is to avoid social media networks altogether as the negative news spreads far and wider (playing on the emotional aspect).
These collectives make regular headlines, and I’d be genuinely happy if the collective succeeds even if partially. Global issues are challenging to address because different communities have varied needs.