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Photo by Daniel Olah

Photo by Daniel Olah

Half the world is online. Now we must make the web work for everyone, everywhere.

Web Foundation · December 20, 2018

Just over one month ago, the Web Foundation made headlines when we revealed that less than half of the global population was online. The shocking statistic was a rallying point for the launch of the Contract for the Web — a new collaborative project that brings together governments, companies, civil society organisations and citizens around the world to collectively define our responsibilities towards ensuring a free, open and fair web that works for everyone, everywhere.

From centre stage at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web and one of the key backers of the Contract for the Web, called on people all around the world to join forces in an unprecedented effort to get everyone connected — and make sure that when that happens, the web is something worth connecting to.

This month, we got the exciting news that the world has finally hit that ‘halfway mark’. Although the ITU previously predicted that this moment wouldn’t come until mid-2019, their updated estimates now show that for the first time ever, over half of the global population is online. They project that by the end of the year, 51.2% of the world — that’s 3.9 billion people — will be connected.

A few percentage points may not seem like much, but the opportunities that internet access provides in the lives of people around the world is immense. It means that Prisca could take the exam she needed to get into medical school in Nigeria. It enabled Vinodha’s community in India to get subsidies for housing. And it empowered Stephen in the UK to clear his name of a crime he didn’t commit.

Since the launch of the campaign, over 70 civil society organisations, 100 companies, 2 governments, and nearly 6,000 individuals have raised their voices to help build the Contract for the Web. This makes us better organised than ever before to make these opportunities a reality for every single person on the planet.

But we also know that connecting the other 50% of the global population comes with its own set of challenges. The rate at which people are coming online has slowed dramatically in recent years. And we’re already seeing threats to the web as we know it — which are affecting our democracies, our security and our human rights. That’s why we’re teaming up with a key group of stakeholders from AnchorFree, Google, The New Now,, CIPESA and the governments of France and Germany to build a better way forward.

Over the next six months, this group will be at the forefront of building ways for the entire web community to get involved in building the Contract for the Web as a roadmap for a web that works for everyone, everywhere. You can sign up to endorse the principles guiding the development of the Contract for the Web. If you do we’ll be in touch about ways that you can add your voice to the process of building the full contract.

We hope that you’ll join us in marking this ‘halfway’ moment by joining our community working for a better web, for everyone.


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