Principles for a Contract for the Web


32 points | by cezar-augusto 221 days ago


  • icebraining 221 days ago

    It's interesting to compare with the Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace:

    • sarcasmOrTears 221 days ago

      Who decide what's best in humanity? Who decide what's civil discourse? I guess those in power. So, go away.

      • nine_k 221 days ago

        Interestingly, in the beginning they talk about "internet", and later switch to "the web".

        • bepvte 221 days ago

          This contract is very funny with the GDPR tracking cookie notice at the bottom

        • cityzen 221 days ago

          Hard to take anything like this seriously with Facebook's logo on there.

          • this2shallPass 221 days ago

            Facebook and Google. Does either organization "Respect consumers’ privacy and personal data So people are in control of their lives online"?

            • nine_k 221 days ago

              At least, Google allows you to download your data.

          • matt4077 221 days ago

            This so-called "contract" uses the language of compromise: different interests each making about equal concessions in order to achieve some collective greater good.

            Yet the substance isn't there. One party gets away with only the sort of instructions a toddler usually hears: go out and have fun, be the best you can be!

            Yeah, that's the category of users/citizen. I'm sure even the vacuous promises asked of users will find plenty of outrage here, because for some reason "respecting civil discourse and human dignity" is taken as a scandalous attack on the real victims of everything that happened since enlightenment, namely young white men who just want enrich the marketplace of ideas with innovative new anti-semitic memes and HRC rape fantasies.

            But in any case it's a meaningless promise because there's no way to nudge those opposing such notions of decency towards compliance. The real world has the old neighbour's stern look of disapproval as a low-intensity intervention to corral people into what's considered manners, or decency, or legal. That, plus mechanisms of reputation, and the difficulty of choosing one's company as freely as one does online has traditionally ensured norms of behaviour. None of those mechanisms has managed the jump online.

            To suggest something that would actually make for a substantial contribution by users, here's an idea that you will hate, which sort-of proofs my point: users should, at least in principle, be willing to tolerate some advertisement. As in: not animated, not obscuring content, with tracking limited to maybe some broad categories, and not consuming more bandwidth than appropriate. "willing to accept" should include, for example, some efforts by ad blockers to automatically categorise ads and selectively block harmful and annoying ads.

            I'm somewhat certain that ads follow the 80/20 rule, and blocking just 20% could give users all they actually want while preserving at least the theoretical chance for ad-financed journalism.

            This would seem to be rather meaningful, considering societies life and die with the quality and availability of information. And contrary to some utopian fantasies in the mold of the Cluetrain Manifesto, the web has not actually lead to the emergence of a suitable replacement for a paid journalist to schlepp to city council every morning.

            I know many regard ad blocking as an act of self-defense. And I agree, at least in principle, maybe not quite with the overly dramatic testimonials of grievous personal harm. Adtech has just gone too far, and thereby provoked this sort of arms race in the first place.

            To find a better equilibrium, those two sides would need to find a way to deescalate, which would require some sort of tacit agreement, or a sequence of tit-for-tat disarmament. But that's quite hard to pull of for two amorphous group with no relevant mechanisms or structures for coordination.

            I dunno... Maybe some sort of contract?