May 16

The Future of the Open WEB

The future of the open web

The future of the open web description

In 2000, Professor Lawrence Lessig explained in an essay entitled Code is Law that the Web poses a question about the relationship between software and our values. As people create software, they are also making a decision about fundamental issues like freedom and privacy. Nearly two decades later, in a world woven together by the Web, this conversation is as relevant as ever. The Web has tremendous growth thanks to some of the technical and social decisions that were made in the Web’s formation. Many of these decisions reflect public, cooperative principles—an Open Web—rather than a network that is exclusive, walled, private, and proprietary. However, many questions about the governance and state of the Web have shifted or remained unanswered over time.

This day will be a discussion of the future of the Open Web and focus on “openness” in three dimensions as they relate to the Web: open-source software, open science, and open platforms. The discussions will include perspectives from policy makers, academics, activists, and practitioners. Although policy questions will play a prominent role in this debate, the day will appeal to a larger audience, including anyone who has a stake in the Web. Sessions will include an introduction to the pending questions in each focus area, a conversation among invited experts who bring differing perspectives on Web policy, and a final keynote to tie these conversations together into a thesis about the future of the Open Web. Together, these sessions will ask what the future of the Web should say about our values, what our values should say about the future of the Web, and how our hopes for an ideal Web of the future might pan out in practice.


Stephen LaPorte

Bob West


Luc Henry

The Future of the Open WEB Schedule

Tentative schedule

Opening remarks

10:30 - 10:45

Invited talk

Policing online speech

David Kaye • Clinical Professor of Law; UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression in UC Irvine School of Law

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Who should decide whether content should be removed from platforms, or which users should be kicked off? Should governments set the rules and force the American behemoths—Facebook, YouTube and Twitter—to follow? Or should the companies be permitted to moderate their space as they see fit? What are the biggest challenges to content moderation -- and regulation -- today?


David Kaye is a professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Appointed by the UN Human Rights Council in June 2014, he is the global body’s principal monitor for freedom of expression issues worldwide. His thematic reporting has addressed, among other things, growing repression of freedom of expression globally, encryption and anonymity, the protection of whistleblowers and journalistic sources, the roles and responsibilities of private Internet companies, the regulation of online content by social media and search companies and the ways in which Artificial Intelligence technologies implicate human rights issues. He has written for international and American law journals and numerous media outlets, and he is the author of Speech Police: The Global Struggle to Govern the Internet (2019). He began his legal career with the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and former member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.

10:45 - 11:15

Invited talk

Locking the Web Open—a Call for a New, Decentralized Web

Brewster Kahle • Founder & Digital Librarian of Internet Archive

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30 years after the World Wide Web was created, can we now make it better? How can we ensure that our most important values: privacy, free speech, and open access to knowledge, are enshrined in the code itself? In a provocative call to action, entrepreneur and Open Internet advocate, Brewster Kahle, challenges us to build a better, decentralized Web based on new distributed technologies. He lays out a path to creating a new Web that is reliable, private, but still fun—in order to lock the Web open for good.


A passionate advocate for public Internet access and a successful entrepreneur, Brewster Kahle has spent his career intent on a singular focus: providing Universal Access to All Knowledge. He is the founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive, one of the largest libraries in the world. Soon after graduating from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he studied artificial intelligence, Kahle helped found the company Thinking Machines, a parallel supercomputer maker. In 1989, Kahle created the Internet's first publishing system called Wide Area Information Server (WAIS), later selling the company to AOL. In 1996, Kahle co-founded Alexa Internet, which helps catalog the Web, selling it to in 1999. The Internet Archive, which he founded in 1996, now preserves 50 petabytes of data - the books, Web pages, music, television, and software of our cultural heritage, working with more than 600 library and university partners to create a digital library, accessible to all.

11:15 - 11:45

Showcase: Infomesh Web Platform

Laura Perrenoud, Alfatih Al Zouabi and Eryk Salvaggio • ECAL University of Art and Design Lausanne, Swissnex San Francisco

11:45 - 11:50

Invited talk

Open Science and the Open Web

Dr. Tim Smith • Head of Collaboration, Devices and Applications Group in CERN

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The digital age brought the opportunity to distribute and access our scientific results in new, more efficient ways; thus the open web was born at CERN to share our knowledge. 30 years later and now knowledge is drowning in a turbulent ocean of information… So today we are working on bringing the process of creating knowledge, and not just the knowledge itself, into the digital age, to expose and enhance the power of the scientific method. I will discuss how this Open Science can foster reproducibility and reuse and how its inherent transparency and accountability might help shape the future of the open web.


Head of Collaboration, Devices and Applications Group at CERN. Tim is an Open Science advocate leading initiatives at CERN and in the wider science community. He drove the launch of CERN’s Open Data Portal to share LHC big data with the world, as well as the Higgs Boson webcast which shared its discovery live around the globe. He also instigated and nurtures Zenodo within the European Commission’s OpenAIRE project as an open data service for world-wide science.

11:50 - 12:20


12:20 - 14:00

Invited talk

The hidden costs of software

Nadia Eghbal • Researcher in Protocol Labs

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Software, once written, is hard to get rid of, and it carries hidden costs over time: physical infrastructure, user support, managing dependencies. Given these costs, how should we think about maintaining - not just creating - critical open source infrastructure?


Nadia Eghbal researches the economics of open source software. Her work is funded by Protocol Labs. Previously, she worked at GitHub to improve the open source developer experience, and she is the author of Roads and Bridges: The Unseen Labor Behind Our Digital Infrastructure.

14:00 - 14:30

Invited talk

China’s Threat to the Open Web

Adam Knight • Researcher in University of Oxford

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Adam Knight  

Loosely gathered under the catch-all term “The Great Firewall”, China’s distinctive approach to internet governance and development has evolved into a fully fledged model rivalling other international norms. China’s application of internet sovereignty, censorship and surveillance technologies in the creation of an “online spiritual garden” offer a viable and worrying alternative for countries seeking to connect the next billion internet users. This talk will outline some of the key characteristics of the Chinese model and ask what this means for the future of the open Web.


Adam Knight is a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford where he focuses on the intersection of public and private actors in the regulation of Chinese internet technologies. Adam’s specific research interests touch on the Chinese social credit system and its implementation across different geographies and industries in China. Adam’s work has featured at academic, industry and government events in Europe, the UK, China, the US and Russia, and has contributed to articles pieces by the BBC, Al Jazeera and the Financial Times. Adam is also the cofounder of a China technology consultancy, advising dozens of public and private organisations on their digital presence in the country.

14:30 - 15:00

Showcase: Infomesh Web Platform

Laura Perrenoud, Alfatih Al Zouabi and Eryk Salvaggio • ECAL University of Art and Design Lausanne, Swissnex San Francisco

15:00 - 15:05

Invited talk

Europe and the Open Internet

Marietje Schaake • Member of European Parliament

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What is Europe's role in shaping the future of the open internet? In recent years, several initiatives, from data protection to copyright laws, have emerged in the EU. These laws have been met with mixed reviews. On the one hand, there is appreciation for beginning to ensure the rule of law also applied online. On the other hand, not all legislative initiatives are seen as helping the open internet and its users. Additionally, the question is where growth of digital innovation and economic development will come from for Europe. I will look at some key legislative initiatives, and what I believe is to be expected in the next years.


Marietje Schaake is a Dutch politician and has been serving as a Member of the European Parliament since 2009. She is a member of D66, part of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE) political group. She is Coordinator on the International Trade committee, where she is the ALDE spokesperson on transatlantic trade and digital trade. Schaake also serves on the committee on Foreign Affairs and the subcommittee on Human Rights. She is the Vice-President of the US Delegation and serves on the Iran Delegation and the Delegation for the Arab peninsula. Furthermore, Schaake is the founder of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Digital Agenda for Europe. In 2017 she was Chief of the European Union Election Observation Mission in Kenya. Since 2014, Schaake is a ‘Young Global Leader’ with the World Economic Forum and she was recently appointed as co-chair of the WEF Global Future Council on Agile Governance. Schaake is a Member of the Transatlantic Commission on Election Integrity, the Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace and chair of the CEPS Taskforce on Software Vulnerability Disclosure in Europe. Furthermore, she is a member of the European Council on Foreign Relations and an advisor to the Center for Humane Technology. Schaake was featured by Politico as one of the 40 MEPs who mattered in 2014-2019.

15:05 - 15:30


15:30 - 16:00


The Future of the Open Web: challenges and opportunities

Moderator:Jan Gerlach • Wikimedia Foundation

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The panel convenes experts in the domains of human rights, open source, misinformation and trust, and innovation for young internet users. The speakers will jointly explore existing challenges and opportunities for the open web and give an outlook of its future.



Jan Gerlach • Wikimedia Foundation


Lindsay Freeman • Researcher, Human Rights Center, UC Berkeley


Renée DiResta • Mozilla Fellow


Jennie Bernstein • Urban Innovation Lead, UNICEF


Abby Vollmer • Senior Policy Manager, GitHub

16:00 - 16:45

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