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Contract for the Web endorsed

The National Security Inspectorate (NSI) is endorsing the new Contract for the Web. Briefly, the Contract for the Web provides a shared global plan to protect a free and open web that works for the public good.

Written by over 80 people with input from hundreds, the Contract recognises that everyone has a role to play in safeguarding the Web. This fact is articulated in the Contract’s nine principles.

As for the principles for companies, they include working towards an ever-increasing quality of service, supporting corporate accountability and robust privacy and data protection by design, and being accountable for their work, through regular reports. The fire and safety certification body says that these principles align with NSI’s key values of integrity, independence and continuous improvement.

Richard Jenkins, Chief Executive of the NSI, pictured, says: ‘The Web is fundamental to everyday life across the entire planet. By endorsing the Contract we are committing to managing our on-line presence within a robust frame work for governance, in our work of promoting the value of third party certification to buyers and specifiers of services, facilitating the auditing process and explaining the benefits working with NSI approved companies to the wider public.”

Background

Visit https://contractfortheweb.org. For example, principle five asks internet users to ‘Respect and protect people’s privacy and personal data to build online trust’. That means data protection by design, and carrying out regular-active data processing impact assessments that are made available to regulators which hold companies accountable for their products and services. The Contract calls for ‘readily available mechanisms for individuals to report adverse privacy and data protection impacts’.

As an aside, recent academic research by the University of Portsmouth into white collar criminals, convicted of crimes such as fraud and bribery, suggests that the Internet poses a major challenge to the confidentiality provisions included in the UK’s Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974).

Comment

Bill Mitchell, Director of Policy at BCS (British Computer Society) says: “This is a most welcome start to a dialogue for how we ensure the Web creates genuine societal benefit and avoids unintended harm. At the same time, we think some of the fine print in the contract needs to be carefully looked at through consultation with key stakeholders to ensure we achieve the right balance between democratic sovereignty, incentives for commercial innovation, and individual freedoms.

“The web has fantastic potential, but it’s important to be aware of the dangers as well as the benefits it brings with it. The new Contract echoes much of what BCS has been working on over recent years including developing policy on areas of concern including online harms, facial recognition and political manipulation. Society has a responsibility to help people manage risks, reduce harms and understand how the Web works, so that they take full and empowered advantage of it in the future. Failure to do so will damage public trust and confidence.”


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