Promoting and Protecting the Decentralized Web: Report from DWeb Camp - Summer 2023
Movement for a Better Internet
In the ever-evolving landscape of the digital age, the quest for a more equitable, inclusive, and empowering internet has given rise to the movement for a decentralized web (DWeb). This report reflects findings from the collaborative efforts of DWeb technologists, activists, public interest organizations, and stakeholders who convened in a workshop at DWeb Camp in the Summer of 2023. The workshop was organized and facilitated by members of the Movement for a Better Internet, a coalition dedicated to ensuring that the internet's evolution is guided by public interest values so that the internet works better for everyone.
Our Goal: Promoting and Protecting the Decentralized Web
The overarching goal of these collaborative efforts is to promote and protect decentralized web technologies and principles. The DWeb Principles embraced by the DWeb Camp community encapsulate a vision of an internet that prioritizes human agency, mutual respect, shared benefits, ecological awareness, and, most importantly, the empowerment of individuals. These principles are not mere abstractions; they represent a roadmap for a web that places people at the center, safeguards their rights, and enriches their digital experiences.
Decentralization has always been a key element of the web, and now new DWeb technologies have the potential to realign our digital lives away from the recent history of increasing centralization and surveillance capitalism, back towards the original, decentralized, human-centered vision of the internet.
A Brief Summary of the DWeb Principles
The DWeb Principles form the foundation of our understanding of the DWeb Community. These principles were developed collaboratively by engagement with stakeholders that continue to engage in conversations about DWeb rooted in a shared project to build a more distributed and open internet - a better internet. The DWeb Principles can be briefly summarized or restated as follows:
Technology for Human Agency: DWeb technology must prioritize individuals' security, privacy, and self-determination. It seeks to eliminate walled gardens, values open source code, and champions peer-to-peer relationships. In this vision, technology minimizes surveillance, optimizes social benefits, and empowers individuals over their data.
Distributed Benefits: Decentralized technologies should ensure that rewards and recognition are shared among contributors. Concentrated control is at odds with the principles of the DWeb.
Mutual Respect: Clear codes of conduct are essential to promote respectful behavior, accountability, and transparency. Equity, trust, and respect drive organizational practices and governance.
Humanity: The DWeb aims to protect human rights, empower individuals, and condemn any use of distributed tools against human rights. It promotes harm reduction, accessibility, and linguistic diversity.
Ecological Awareness: DWeb projects prioritize environmental sustainability, energy efficiency, and device longevity.
Engaging Government Policy in Advancing DWeb
Engaging with government policy is a critical aspect of advancing the technologies and structures of a more decentralized internet. The internet plays a pivotal role in the lives of citizens worldwide, and its governance and regulation affect every facet of society. Governments have a responsibility to ensure that the internet aligns with public interest values, respects individual rights, and fosters innovation; and decentralization is poised to realign our digital lives more closely to that vision.
By working collaboratively with policymakers, we can translate the principles of the DWeb community into tangible policy actions. This engagement is essential to bring about meaningful change in how the internet is structured, utilized, and governed. It allows us to influence the development of policies and regulations that respect and advance DWeb principles, thereby creating an internet that truly serves the needs of the global community.
In our workshop, we conceived an action plan that encompasses education, advocacy, coalition-building, and policy development. Our collective effort is not just an idealistic vision but a pragmatic roadmap for turning the DWeb principles into a reality—a decentralized web that empowers individuals, safeguards their rights, and enhances their digital experiences.
Our draft action plan is based on three pillars:
Promoting the Vision of Decentralization
Protecting DWeb’s Potential
Building Community & Alliances
In our action plan the first two pillars serve to organize six strategies that were developed during the stakeholder brainstorming sessions. The third pillar outlines targets and strategies for building the community and key connections necessary for carrying out the action plan.
Finally, the action plan also includes a section on additional strategies and tactics for the future. These ideas can serve as future goals to build towards or could supplement the six strategies outlined in the action plan.
Over the next few months we will be engaging relevant stakeholders in the actual action plan. We will use it to educate policymakers about the core principles of the DWeb, articulate why they should support decentralization, and bridge the gap between them and DWeb technologies. Furthermore, we aim to protect the essential principles and features of DWeb, identify and address internal and external risks, and advocate for policies that empower marginalized groups.
Building a community and forging alliances is the most critical component of this action plan. Through coalitions, partnerships, influencer engagement, public awareness campaigns, and policy advocacy we can amplify our impact and create a collective voice for the DWeb movement.
As part of this effort, we issue a call to action to all stakeholders: it is not enough to envision a decentralized web or even just to build the tools and technologies needed to make it a reality; we must also work together to bring it to fruition through our laws, policies, and culture. Whether you are a technologist, activist, policymaker, storyteller, or an engaged citizen, your contribution is vital. We invite you to join us in this mission!