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Cybersecurity & Standards, Free Expression, Privacy & Data

CDT Welcomes Recent W3C Drafts of Privacy and Ethical Principles for the Web

The W3C’s Technical Architecture Group recently (12 May 2022) published a first public draft note of its Ethical Web Principles and Privacy Principles documents.

These documents are intended to guide the architectural design of the interoperable, standards-based platform that is the Web, with some basic and high-level principles like:

  • The web is for all people
  • Security and privacy are essential
  • The web must enable freedom of expression

And the Privacy Principles document currently covers some of the duties we expect from “user agents” (Web browsers), why privacy is important in situations of information asymmetry and power imbalance, and different facets of privacy, including controlling identities and freedom from interruption and intrusion.

We are glad the technical community is seriously considering the fundamental ethical implications of core platforms like the Web and appreciate the process of building broader consensus around those implications and how the Web can fulfill those ethical commitments.

Civil society participation can bring direct contributions to these efforts in advocating for human rights, illuminating the variety of ethical impacts, and evaluating the effectiveness of mitigations. CDT has been and will continue to participate, contributing to the Privacy Principles document and other work around privacy threat modeling and mitigation.

But there’s a lot, lot more work to do, including many open issues, debates to be settled, and important sections that still need a first draft. We would love to see more civil society and community input; feel free to open Github issues if you’re comfortable with that (found in the W3C links above), or reach out to us with your questions or ideas and we can help bring them to the broader group.