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World Wide Web founder unveils rule book for the internet

AP, November 26, 2019 6:45PM Kids News

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The first-ever global internet rule book is designed to protect people’s rights and help everyone make the internet a better place. media_cameraThe first-ever global internet rule book is designed to protect people’s rights and help everyone make the internet a better place.

technology

Reading level: orange

World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee has released the first-ever global rule book for the internet.

It is designed to protect people’s privacy and stop or limit fake news, election interference, spying and censorship*.

Just as children sign an agreement with their school promising to use technology responsibly, the Contract for the Web asks companies, governments and individuals around the world to sign an agreement for how they will use technology and the internet.

The contract seeks commitments from governments and business to make and keep knowledge freely available, which was Sir Tim’s vision when he designed the World Wide Web 30 years ago.

Science Museum Hosts An Event The 30th Birthday of The The World Wide Web With Sir Tim Berners Lee media_cameraSir Tim Berners-Lee at an event celebrating the 30th birthday of the World Wide Web on March 12, 2019 in London, UK. England. Picture: Getty Images

Hundreds of organisations, including Google and Facebook, have already signed the contract, which sets out nine key principles*.

“The power of the web to transform people’s lives, enrich* society and reduce inequality is one of the defining opportunities of our time,” Sir Tim explained.

“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 gives us a road map to build a better web. But it will not happen unless we all commit to the challenge.

“Governments need to strengthen laws and regulations* for the digital age. Companies must do more to ensure pursuit of profit is not at the expense of human rights and democracy*.”

Google and Facebook – businesses based on collecting and sharing information about people — helped pay for and develop the contract with the World Wide Web Foundation, of which Sir Tim is a founder. Many people blame big companies such as Google and Facebook for making the negative aspects* of the internet worse.

media_cameraThe logos of mobile apps Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Google displayed on a tablet. Many people blame big companies such as Google and Facebook for making the negative aspects of the internet worse. Picture: AFP

Global human rights organisation Amnesty International, for instance, just released a report charging that Google and Facebook’s business models are based on the abuse of human rights.

The contract is non-binding, which means it would need to be backed up by laws to make sure citizens, businesses and governments actually do what they have agreed to do when they signed the contract.

The contract sets out a framework for future laws and suggests independent regulators* would be available to the public to help people get justice if it is found that someone has not followed the rules of the contract.

Sir Tim said getting big technology companies such as Google and Facebook involved from the start was vital* to the success of any contract, adding that both companies had asked to be involved.

“We haven’t had a fairly complex, fairly complete plan of action for the web going forward,” Sir Tim said. “This is the first time we’ve had a rule book in which responsibility is being shared.

“We feel that companies and governments deserve equal seats at the table* and understanding where they’re coming from is equally valuable,” he said. “To have this conversation around a table without the tech companies, it just wouldn’t have the clout* and we wouldn’t have ended up with the insights*.”

The non-profit World Wide Web Foundation’s top donors include the Swedish, Canadian and US governments.

One of its biggest challenges is the increasing influence and control of the internet by governments, including of China, Russia and Iran.

media_cameraA Chinese flag flying next to the Google company logo outside the former Google China headquarters in Beijing in 2010, when Google stopped operating in China due to government censorship and hacking. Picture: AFP

CONTRACT FOR THE WEB
The contract sets out nine key principles to agree to.
For governments:

  • Principle 1. Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
  • Principle 2. Keep all of the internet available, all of the time
  • Principle 3. Respect and protect people’s fundamental online privacy and data rights.

For companies:

  • Principle 4. Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone.
  • Principle 5. Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust.
  • Principle 6. Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst.

For citizens:

  • Principle 7. Be creators and collaborators* on the Web.
  • Principle 8. Build strong communities that respect civil discourse* and human dignity.
  • Principle 9. Fight for the Web.

There is more information at contractfortheweb.org

Earth media_cameraThe Contract for the Web calls on citizens to be creators and collaborators, build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity and fight for the web.

GLOSSARY

  • censorship: stopping the public knowing something because it has been judged it is harmful to know
  • principles: a general idea to test or follow
  • enrich: make richer or better
  • exploit: take advantage of
  • undermine: reduce how well something works
  • squandering: wasting
  • regulations: rules
  • democracy: a system of government in which everyone has a say
  • aspects: parts
  • regulators: people or organisations that make sure rules are followed
  • vital: essential
  • seats at the table: a say in the discussions
  • clout: power
  • insights: valuable experience or information
  • collaborators: people or organisations who work together
  • discourse: discussion

EXTRA READING

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Media unites in fight against secrecy

Are parents ignoring kids’ rights

Hackers good and evil tale of technology

QUICK QUIZ

  1. What is Sir Tim Berners-Lee best known for?
  2. Have Google and Facebook agreed to follow the principles in the Contract for the Web?
  3. Which governments are supporters of the World Wide Web Foundation?
  4. Which governments mentioned does the foundation have concerns about in relation to the internet?
  5. The principles are aimed at which three types of people or groups?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Internet rule book
Work with a partner to create a mini version of the global rule book outlined in the Kids News article. Your booklet should contain the nine principles, but put those principles in kid-friendly language with a little extra explanation so younger students can understand the rules for using the internet.

Decorate your booklet and some other classes in your school might let the students in the class read this new rule book. Maybe you could even talk to another class to explain how this came about.

Time: allow 30 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Digital Technologies, Critical and creative thinking

2. Extension
Principle 9 is “Fight for the web” and it’s a rule for citizens. In one paragraph explain what you think this might mean or relate to.

Time: allow 10 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English, Digital Technologies, Critical and creative thinking

VCOP ACTIVITY
With a partner see if you can identify all the doing words/verbs in this text. Highlight them in yellow and then make a list of them all down your page. Now see if you and your partner can come up with a synonym for the chosen verb. Make sure it still makes sense in the context it was taken from.

Try to replace some of the original verbs with your synonyms and discuss if any are better and why.

HAVE YOUR SAY: Would you sign or agree to the Contract for the Web? Do you think it is a good thing? Do you think it will make the internet better?
No one-word answers. Use full sentences to explain your thinking. No comments will be published until approved by editors.

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