The move calls on governments, companies and people to help protect the open web as a place for public good and a basic right for all.
Several internet companies have announced support for the initiative, with Google’s backing coming from Google.org.
Google’s part in the plan backs the commitment with a $1 million Google.org grant to the World Wide Web Foundation so it can continue to drive forward its important work #ForTheWeb.
The “contract” describes core principals, such as ensuring that everyone worldwide can connect to the internet, keep the information stored on it available to all, respect people’s fundamental right to privacy, be creators and collaborators on the web, and more.
The news comes days after London-born computer scientist Berners-Lee -- credited for helping to invent the web in 1989 -- voiced his disappointment with the current state of the internet, following scandals describing abuse of personal data and the use of social media to spread hate.
Several news reports cite the 63-year-old MIT professor as pointing to information leaks from Facebook, which saw nearly 90 million of its users’ personal data compromised, as an example of a handful of tech giants having too much power.
“What naturally happens is you end up with one company dominating the field, so through history there is no alternative to really coming in and breaking things up,” Berners-Lee told Reuters.
He calls this path a danger to information. Part of his plan, according to one report, centers on his newly launched startup, Inrupt, whose engineers are building the open-source platform called “Solid." The platform aims to decentralize the web and allow users to choose where their data is kept, along with who can see and access it.
Putting the combined companies’ wealth and power into perspective, Reuters estimates that “Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Facebook have a combined market capitalization of $3.7 trillion, equal to Germany’s gross domestic product last year.”