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What is the Web you Want?

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Thousands of people are now part of an international movement to shape the future of the Web. Connect, share and speak out with others.




The Web We Want campaign was started by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, on UN Human Rights Day in Geneva.

‘The future of the Web depends on ordinary people discussing it, taking responsibility for it and challenging those who seek to control the Web for their own purposes. The first step is to answer one simple question: what kind of Web do we want?’

Sir Tim Berners-Lee


Web We Want projects are making a difference across the world every day. Let us help you to set up your own project, host an event or take action with others to build the Web we want.




Build our web 25 history

OWPSEE and Zenskaposla are using the Web We Want grant to build a user-generated history of 25 years of the Web in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Will highlight milestones in the country’s history, including the 1989 fall of communism and the end/breaking up of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia; the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia and the long post-conflict recovery period; the first Web “revolution” in 2008, the 2013 #JMBG online protest, and the 2014 “Bosnian Spring.” The timeline with these milestones will be launched and publicly distributed, with an open call for people submit stories related to any of these key time periods. For the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina, whose recent history has been plagued by conflict and ethnic struggles, the Web constituted a truly unique breakthrough—the first territory without a visa requirement.

The peoples’ history will visualised through an interactive timeline which will include text and images, together with short individual digital stories, audio/video interviews with people present during key moments in the country’s Web history, and a collective participatory video. The history timeline will include the development of institutions, legislation, investments, big telecoms, small ISPs, formal civil society organisations, and informal initiatives surrounding the Web. The most significant stories will be selected and the storytellers will be invited to participate and develop their story during a storytelling workshop in Sarajevo. Meanwhile, a small team of net activists will conduct research and interviews, and will help to create and run a participatory collective video process. This team will be chosen among participants of the “Build our Web25 History” project, with the support of OWSPEE and Zenskaposla, and following a training on video production, will collaborate to create this 11 to 15-minute long collective video. The video and supporting materials will be available for download, and people will be encouraged to organise presentations in their towns, and to send feedback and updates to further enrich the timeline.  


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Mapping Private Surveillance in the Brazilian Internet

The National Association for Human Rights (ANDHEP) is mapping private surveillance in Brazil. ANDHEP’s privacy project aims to analyse surveillance techniques developed by private Internet companies in Brazil, having as normative criteria the principles of the constitutionally protected rights to privacy and transparency of social and political powers. Internet access in Brazil is increasing—around 40% of households have private access—and proportionally more social networks users than in the U.S. and as access increases, so too has the number of legal cases and lawsuits related to privacy violations by Internet companies.

We want to test the hypothesis of a tendency to “marketise” privacy through authorised or unauthorised use of personal information as profitable assets, especially for advertisement purposes. In order to do so, we will examine the privacy policies of Google and Facebook in light of national and international privacy protection standards. We will also analyse lawsuits by Brazilian users against these companies, and interview employees and directors of their offices in Brazil. Our analysis will focus on three aspects of Internet privacy and their policies on Google and Facebook: 1) the present conditions of privacy on the Web and the nature of the privacy policies; 2) tensions between privacy and freedom of commercial information, as well as between privacy and the transparency of the privacy policies; and 3) the comprehensibility and the visibility of these policies, and the efforts of companies to explain to the users how their information is used. The project will have the duration of six months (February 2014 – August 2014), and will cover a five year period (2010-2014). At the end of the project, we will launch a report that evaluates if these policies abide by national and international standards of privacy protection, along with analyses of the present conditions of online privacy and private surveillance practices in Brazil. At the end of the project we will also organise a seminar to disseminate the online report and results.


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India Surveillance State

The Web We Want grant enabled to conduct a complete legal analysis of the provisions relating to monitoring and surveillance in India. This is particularly important in the context of an extensive monitoring mechanism called the Centralised Monitoring System, currently being planned in India. In this project, conducted a detailed legal analysis of the surveillance and monitoring mechanisms and their compliance with the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance. This research will contribute to’s ongoing efforts to create a hub that will collate information on monitoring and surveillance laws and incidents of misuse of these laws. Recently, organised a conference titled the “Internet We Want” to launch a campaign to draft a bill of rights to protect the rights of citizens on the Internet. The conference aimed at involving Parliamentarians in the discourse related to open Internet and freedom of expression on the Internet. This grant will further help to create awareness about the need for a policy environment that will encourage a free and open Internet for the benefit of the citizens.

The report delves into communications surveillance in India and takes an in-depth look at various aspects of India’s surveillance machinery, including enabling provisions of law, service provider obligations, and known mechanisms. It examines compliance of India’s legal provisions on surveillance with the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance that were formulated after a global consultation with civil society groups, industry, and international experts in communications surveillance law, policy, and technology.

Some major points brought out in this report:

  • An application under the Right to Information Act filed by revealed a list of 26 companies, including foreign companies, that had expressed interest in placing bids on a tender floated for Internet monitoring systems clearly evincing a large number of firms active in selling surveillance equipment in India. Several of these companies have incidentally been included in the list disclosed as part of the Spy Files project of Wikileaks.
  • Another revelation was that on an average more than a lakh (100,000) of telephone interception orders are issued by the Central government alone every year. On adding the surveillance orders issued by the State Governments to this, it becomes clear that India routinely surveills her citizens’ communications on a truly staggering scale.
  • State surveillance of citizens’ private communications is authorized by legislative enactments such as the Indian Telegraph Act and the Information Technology Act, which allow Indian law enforcement agencies to closely monitor phone calls, texts, e-mails and general Internet activity on a number of broadly worded grounds. They establish an opaque surveillance regime that is run solely by the Executive arm of the Government, and make no provisions for independent oversight of the surveillance process.
  • An unknown number of Lawful Interception and Monitoring (LIM) systems tasked with the collection and analysis of citizens’ communications data and meta-data are already installed into India’s communication networks. On top of these, capability-enhancing technologies and databases such as the Central Monitoring System (CMS), Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) are in varying stages of deployment. The Government of India is also known to outsource surveillance initiatives to private third parties, some of which go so far as to infect target devices using malicious software in order to gain access to information stored within.
  • It was revealed by a source that NETRA storage servers will be installed at more than 1000 locations across India, each with a storage capacity of 300 GB totalling to 300 TB of storage initially.
  • Section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 imposes an obligation by which Internet Service Providers are to provide all assistance to the government agencies to intercept any communication and a failure to comply with it may result in imprisonment for upto 7 years and fines.
  • The Controller of Certifying Authorities uses Section 28 of the IT Act, an ambiguous provision, to collect user data from technology companies. An RTI request revealed that they have made 73 requests under this provision in 2011.
  • Indian laws, policies and practices with respect to surveillance are not in conformity with International human rights law as evinced by the report of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights released on June 30, 2014.
  • Considering how all the above takes place in a framework that has yet to accord legislative recognition to the existence of a Right to Privacy, no concerns over undue State surveillance can be termed as unfounded.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here.

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Global Net Neutrality Coalition Launch

Countries around the world - from Chile to the Netherlands - have passed laws protecting the open internet. Many more are debating policies that would extend net neutrality protections to millions more people. As the internet continues to unite billions of people across national borders and time zones, it's crucial that every lawmaker understands what is at stake. That's why we're building an international coalition in support of the basic principles behind the open internet - and why we're urging policymakers everywhere to stand up for net neutrality. At the Web We Want Festival Opening Session we will be launching a Website which will serve as a hub for organizations, academics, and policymakers to learn more about the issue, discover what is being done locally and regionally, and connect to other Net Neutrality advocates.

Join us! 

11:05 to 11.15am
The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, South Bank Centre
Or via Live Streaming!

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III DiscoTech in Istanbul: Sharing Circumvention Tactics

On the eve of the global Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Istanbul, 1 September 2014, the Association for Progressive Communications (APC), Tactical Technology Collective (Tactical Tech) and World Wide Web Foundation (Web Foundation) through our Web We Want initiative are hosting a peer-learning event on censorship and circumvention, problems and solutions for internet rights.

The IGF is a crucial meeting point for civil society. While the multi-stakeholder processes of the IGF itself will address the global state of internet at the policy level, civil society will act in parallel to protect human rights online from the bottom up. In light of the Turkey’s recent Twitter ban, the 2014 IGF is a particularly key event for discussing digital rights.

From elections to coups d’etat, blocking and censorship is being employed by an increasing number of states, institutions and companies with the complicity of corporate service providers, hardware manufacturers and software developers. As technical means to censor freedom of expression and information increase, so too does the proliferation of citizen-led solutions. Heavy-handed laws are met with determined resistance from civil society, through legal challenges, demands for change to policy and regulation, and adoption of technical solutions.

The internet is a global resource and an important enabler of human rights and development which should be managed in the public interest. From this perspective, the “Disco-tech” will encourage cross-regional networking among techies, human rights defenders and civil society advocates to share experiences and strategies for bypassing breaches to freedom of expression.

Therefore, the Web We Want is supporting an informal evening event designed to bridge gaps between user experiences, internet policy and technological solutions.  Attendees of Disco-tech Istanbul will be encouraged to follow up new learnings at a digital security “help desk” in the exhibition hall of the IGF.


  • Amie Stepanovich, Access
  • Ahmet A. Sabancı, Alternatif Bilişim
  • Andrew Gardner, Amnesty International
  • Mohammad Tarakiyee, Association for Progressive Communications
  • Fieke Jansen, Hivos
  • Mohamad Najem, Social Media Exchange
  • More speakers will be announced soon…

Event details

  • Venue: Sofa Hotel
  • Transport: walking distance from IGF venue; Osmanbey metro station
  • Attendance: Approx. 200 people
  • Food: Light snacks and drinks

About the organisers

APC is an international network and non-profit organisation founded in 1990 that wants everyone to have access to a free and open internet to improve lives and create a more just world.

Tactical Tech is an organisation dedicated to the use of information in activism. They focus on the use of data, design and technology in campaigning through their Evidence & Action programme and on helping activists understand and manage their digital security and privacy risks through their Privacy & Expression programme.

World Wide Web Foundation was established by Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee and is devoted to achieving a world in which all people can use the Web to communicate, collaborate and innovate freely, building bridges across the divides that threaten our shared future.

Content by Mallory Knodel and Renata Avila

Picture under a Creative Commons License. by LASZLO ILYES Turkish deLIGHT  Kapalıçarşı (Grand Bazaar) in Istanbul, Turkey

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The Internet India Wants

A group of advocates for community media, women’s rights and digital rights, mostly from south Asia, met in New Delhi to discuss “the Internet We Want.” Many of the participants were meeting for the first time, so in addition to beginning the important process of producing a set of principles on Internet rights and freedoms, the group was engaged in knowledge sharing across sectors and regions. The first half of the meeting was comprised of introductions and a discussion of what the “Internet we want” meant to people. While a bit unstructured, this exercise was useful in helping members of the group become comfortable with one another. The majority of attendees were from India, and many of them work in community media and radio. Other attendees were from Bangladesh, Kenya, France and the U.S. 

The key issues raised during the first half of the meeting were:

  • Applying social justice values to Internet governance and regulation
  • The need to radically democratize the policymaking process in India, which is currently mostly closed to civil society. The solution is not just access to the Internet; the public needs to gain policymaking literacy  (A common remark: There is little transparency in government yet the government expects transparency in people). 
  • Applying the same rule of law online as offline.
  • Since the group felt that developing a set of principles was premature, the second half of the meeting focused on developing a framework for a deliberative process.

A second dialogue is expected to take place and it might lead to a process similar to Marco Civil in Brazil.

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee In Conversation

25 years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web while working at CERN, the large particle physics lab near Geneva. He then worked to ensure the code was made freely available, to everyone, forever.


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2014 Year in Review

2014 was a big year for the Web We Want campaign. Our first full year of work after launching on UN Human Rights Day in December 2013 coincided with the 25th anniversary of the creation of the Web, and featured a non-stop schedule of events, outreach programmes, small grants, and interactive workshops designed to support and amplify local, national, and global efforts to fight for the free and open Web. Throughout the year, the Web We Want worked with nearly 50 partners across more than 35 countries to promote net neutrality, decentralisation of the Internet, and human rights in the digital age, and our efforts reached citizens around the world and celebrated important political gains.

Millions of people joined us in wishing the Web a happy 25th birthday, and rallied around Web 25 ( and Web We Want efforts to promote a Web that respects core human rights and is accessible to all. We brought this fight to parallel events at major Internet governance fora, including NETmundial in Brazil and the Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul, working to ensure that voices from marginalised communities were added to these important debates.

Over the course of the year, we worked with London’s Southbank Centre to put together the Web We Want Festival — a new, unique event, held over three dedicated weekends, which celebrates 25 years of the Web by exploring life at the intersection of the Web and the arts. Thousands of people flocked to the first two weekends of the Festival, held in September and November, where they were able to attend talks on current Web issues including online privacy and surveillance, participate in interactive workshops, explore art created on the Web, and add their thoughts and ideas to the creation of a Magna Carta for the Web. We’re already looking forward to the third and biggest weekend of the Festival, which will take place in May 2015.

Throughout 2014, the Web We Want campaign worked with local organisations from around the globe to support movements to respect human rights online and empower women and other digitally marginalised communities. We awarded small grants to over 50 organisations from across Africa, Latin America, Asia, Southern and Eastern Europe and North America that are fighting for an open and human rights-forward Web, enabling these organisations to host key events or otherwise work to achieve their missions. We also collaborated with initiatives working to increase women’s voices and participation in ICT, by supporting organisations like the Ada Camp Initiative to host workshops in Bangalore and Berlin.

Our work in 2014 has engaged communities from every region of the globe, and we plan to expand this work even further in 2015. Thank you for all you do in fighting for the Web We Want. We look forward to working together more in the coming year!

Best wishes for the new year.

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Latin America: A beacon of hope in the fight against surveillance

by Renata Avila

December 5, 2014

Politically, Latin America has been the region with the strongest, most coordinated, and proactive response against surveillance in the world. From the first moment revelations of massive spying by the intelligence agencies of Australia, Canada New Zealand, the UK, and the US emerged, the governments of Latin America have condemned the massive violation of human rights. Regional Ministries of Foreign Affairs from MERCOSUR and their Presidents declared such surveillance to be a threat against sovereignty, democracy and peace, and brought their concerns to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in a private hearing.

These words quickly turned to action. The speech of now re-elected Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff – one of the most visible events in the region –  led to the creation of work agendas within different regional mechanisms, including MERCOSUR, CELAC, UNASUR, OAS and ALBA, to address surveillance concerns. Anti-surveillance is a priority on the agenda at each of these regional organisations, and each has a working group dedicated to the issue. The region’s efforts against surveillance have been consistent throughout the year and a half since the revelations first emerged, and to date, 14 Latin American countries have endorsed the UN Resolution on Privacy in the Digital Age.

At an event in Quito, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño reiterated the regional commitment to an Internet which empowers citizens, embraces  human rights,  and which is free from massive surveillance. He also emphasised his support for the development of regionally owned Internet infrastructure, for taking steps toward the use of locally developed sovereign technologies, and for using the Internet as a tool for peace, while condemning cyberwar rhetoric and the “militarisation” of the Internet.

Achieving such an ambitious agenda will require action at all layers of society, and will not materialise without citizen participation.  By working together with political leaders and putting the necessary political pressure on regional leaders to work for change, the Latin American region’s 400 million inhabitants – most of whom are young and increasingly connected – could have a huge impact on progress toward a model framework for the knowledge society.

The good news is that Latin America has a strong, savvy, well organised, and integrated civil society, as a recent mapping shows. Experts in the region recently came together and joined the very supportive OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression, Uruguayan Edison Lanza, at a special hearing to discuss Internet and Human Rights. The outlook on the grassroots level is positive as well. The Web We Want campaign has worked on a range of research and advocacy projects with more than twenty different organisations in the region – from research centers to hackerspaces – and through each project, we have encountered a vibrant and engaged youth willing to work to defend their privacy. We are confident that civil society is ready to take the anti-surveillance reform  challenges to the next level.

This is why, in partnership with Derechos Digitales and Oficina Antivigilancia, @antivigilancia we are organising a two-day regional workshop, where  our small grants winners will join activists, lawyers specialised in strategic litigation, and journalists to design a multidimensional regional strategy to create the Web Latin America Wants – a Web that embraces privacy as a central principle and enforces it as a human right for all, enabling peace, democracy and development. We look forward to updating you on the outcomes of the meeting.

Picture by Senado Federal. 

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Considering a Magna Carta for the Web at the Durban University of Technology

Guest post by Graham Stewart, Durban University of Technology

The Durban University of Technology hosted a two-day symposium in October for 100 delegates called "Generation Open - The Promise of Open Access and Open Educational Resources".  The Symposium was timed to coincide with International Open Access Week.

The speakers and panel discussions at the Symposium reflected the twin themes of Open Access – that is, free access to research materials for both research and publication – and Open Educational Resources – learning materials that can be shared and that anyone can use without having to pay royalties or license fees.

As part of the discussion around Open Access, a session was devoted to considering Sir Tim Berners-Lee's crowdsourcing call for a Magna Carta for the Web. The short video was played, followed by a group discussion with delegates putting forward their ideas and wishes for a statement arising from the Symposium.  This statement was then sent out to delegates following the event for further comment and finally officially submitted to the Web We Want website.

Statement from the DUT Generation Open Symposium:

"We subscribe to the ideal of a Web which is a good basis for democracy and which resists balkanisation/fragmentation in the face of current concerns about surveillance. Yet we do want a Web that is safe for all: safe from intrusion, obstruction, manipulation and political interference. We expect a Web with “net neutrality” giving every user equal access to the bandwidth and ease of use available to big business and to governments. We also want an open Web which allows and promotes free expression and sharing of information and knowledge, but which protects personal privacy and curbs hate speech and child pornography. We want a Web that opens up and extends access to knowledge to the whole world population."

The overall impact of the Symposium was expressed by one of the delegates, who said: "It has really underscored my belief that the way we engage technology is important – as is the constructive, open sharing process for developing teaching and learning."

To learn more about DUT's e-learning work, follow the ThinkLearnZone on Twitter @DUT_elearning

Photo: Professor Laura Czerniewicz of the University of Cape Town delivers the keynote address at the "Generation Open" Symposium (Photo courtesy of the Durban University of Technology)

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From Policy to Play: What is the Web the Arab Region Wants?

It has been almost four years since the Arab Revolutions surprised the world and a new generation of Arab youth took to the streets and the Internet to express their discontent regarding the rampant corruption, human rights abuses, economic inequality, and increased repression and censorship they were facing. Tunisia, the country where the Arab Spring began, just celebrated their first Presidential election, giving hope that democracy is real and possible once the dictators are gone. For human rights in the digital age, the struggle is just beginning. While more Arab countries are connected to the Internet than ever before, some countries, including Bahrain, Egypt and Syria, are still imprisoning citizens because of their online activities, and are passing anachronistic laws hindering expression, creativity and innovation.

But a new generation of Arab leaders is emerging. On November 24th and 25th — and with the support of the Web Foundation through the Web We Want Initiative — around 40 activists from 14 countries in the Arab Region gathered at a private meeting in Beirut, Lebanon to design a regional strategy for more effectively demanding their rights and freedoms online. The meeting took place on the eve of the Arab Internet Governance Forum (IGF) in Beirut, and was held at Nasawiya, a cultural centre working to promote gender and LGBT rights in Lebanon — a venue that exemplifies how the region is opening up and embracing a more just and tolerant society.

Conversation at the meeting explored a wide range of themes — from women and the role the Internet can play in promoting their rights, to free software, strategic infrastructure, and which political venues are critical to promoting a change of attitude among governments and private sector companies.

The two-day workshop closed with a public event at Alt City, a thriving hackerspace for startups, where a group of seven speakers from different countries across the region shared their thoughts on the Web the Arab Region Wants. Huffington Post journalist Ahmed Shihab-Eldin (@ASE) also shared his thoughts on what the Web the Arab Region Wants might look like, and all participants later engaged in an interactive dialogue with journalist Glenn Greenwald about the impact of the NSA revelations for Arabs.  

We hope this event can be the seed that leads to further coordinated efforts and actions to create a working agenda in the region, that can connect with other agendas in different regions of the world, and bring some much needed diversity and innovation to conversations in this space.