Security & Fraud

Facebook And Google Opt Into Berners-Lee Data Privacy ‘Contract’

Facebook and Google have signed up for new internet standards, which will require internet companies to respect data privacy and “support the best in humanity.” According to Financial Times, the standards were designed by World Wide Web Founder Tim Berners-Lee, who last week warned that the technology giants are now so dominant that they might need to be broken up.

“Those of us who are online are seeing our rights and freedoms threatened,” said Berners-Lee at the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon on Monday (Nov. 5). “We need a new contract for the web, with clear and tough responsibilities for those who have the power to make it better.”

A report published with the contract revealed that nearly 60 companies, governments and business leaders have signed up for the contract, including Facebook, Google, the French government and billionaire Richard Branson. Amazon, which was named in the report, has not signed up and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The contract will reportedly get more specific after consultations with governments and companies, and could include a commitment to net neutrality.

Last week, it was revealed that Berners-Lee has a plan to “decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it” through technology that enables consumers to control their data as they shop, pay and perform other tasks online.

With that in mind, Berners-Lee has launched a company called Inrupt, which is built around his platform called Solid. According to Berners-Lee, “Solid gives every user a choice about where data is stored, which specific people and groups can access select elements, and which apps you use. It allows you, your family and colleagues to link and share data with anyone. It allows people to look at the same data with different apps at the same time.”

Users of the technology could use apps that are based on the Solid technology, which are reportedly a work in progress. Berners-Lee is also developing an alternative to Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant technology called Charlie, which keeps data ownership with the consumer, not a company. Taken together, the technology will, he said, appeal to people who are uneasy with what they view as corporate control of the internet.

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