Today Consumers International (CI) and the Web Foundation have announced a partnership to advance the rights of internet users everywhere and create a People’s Charter for the Internet. The initiative comes in response to Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s call for a Magna Carta for the Internet, and follows a global survey which found that 76% of all CI members felt consumer protection was ineffective in the digital economy.
Based on broad expert and public consultation, this Charter will establish clear international principles for a free, empowering, and open Web. Then, CI and the Web Foundation will combine the Charter with the expertise and influence of their more than 400 member and partner organisations across 120 countries to drive positive changes for consumers in law, regulation, and corporate practice.
More than three billion people are expected to be online by the end of 2015, while the Internet economy will reach $4.2 trillion in G20 countries. However, consumer organisations around the world feel that “the rapid evolution of the digital economy is outmoding and outpacing consumer protection”. There are increasing concerns that businesses and governments are centralising control over the Web and are not being held accountable for the way their policies impact Internet users.
Amanda Long, Director General of Consumers International, is adamant this will be a very positive step for consumer empowerment. “The World Wide Web is increasingly the medium through which consumers communicate with each other and with providers across many markets, consume products and services and access information.
“Given its central importance, we urgently need to understand consumer aspirations and concerns in relation to these technologies and the increasingly ‘connected lives’ they give rise to – both in relation to current experiences and future developments. A People’s Charter for the Internet will aim to reflect and give voice to consumers’ concerns and needs and give a unique insight into what consumers really think about the Internet and how they want it to develop in the future.”
Anne Jellema, CEO of the Web Foundation added:
“The Web has become as indispensable to our lives as electricity and transport. So we need to claim the Web as a people’s space, not a money-making machine or a spying machine. Our personal data belongs to us, and we should be able to tell governments and companies when and under what circumstances they can appropriate it. The Web Foundation and Consumers International are joining hands to fight for our rights as consumers and citizens online.”
The Web Foundation looks forward to getting this project started, and we invite you to sign up for our newsletter to receive updates on the project.