Submitted by: Mark Surman
Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation

Mozilla Foundation is a global community that does everything from making Firefox to taking stands on issues like privacy and net neutrality. Mark’s main job is to build the movement side of Mozilla, rallying the citizens of the web, building alliances with like-minded organizations and leaders, and growing the open internet movement. Mark’s goal is nothing short of making the health and accessibility of the internet a mainstream issue around the world.

What is Open Web?

“Open web” is a sweeping term — it encompasses technical concepts like open-source code and open standards. It also encompasses democratic concepts like free expression and digital inclusion.

But there’s a single underlying principle connecting all these ideas: An open web is a web by and for all its users, not select gatekeepers or governments.

At Mozilla, we compare the open web to a global public resource, like clean water or the environment. The open web is something we all depend on: to communicate and create, to work and play, to buy and sell. And like any other natural resource, it’s fragile. It needs care, because it can be polluted: by harassment and abuse, by misinformation, by bad public policy.

Why is it important?

The web doesn’t exist in a vacuum, or apart from society. The two are deeply entwined. The web is where we engage with journalism, form opinions and share knowledge. It’s an arena for politics, education, culture and science.

An open web means positive progress for all these things. A more informed public; more civic participation; more opportunities to learn and connect with each other.

An unhealthy web has an opposite effect. When misinformation, harassment or surveillance proliferate online, we lose trust in our institutions and in each other. Fewer people engage. And when closed, proprietary technology proliferates, innovation and competition are stifled. The web is no longer a level playing field — it’s a platform controlled by a select few.

What changes do you hope it will bring?  

I hope the open web will continue to enrich our lives. In the realm of science, it can spark new research and breakthroughs via open data. In art, an open web can support independent artists and connect them with audiences continents away. In government, an open web can bring more transparency and accountability.

What is the future of Open Web?

The technology we use to connect is always evolving — from desktops, to smartphones, to voice-activated AI assistants. The future of the open web is less a particular software or hardware, and more a set of principles: Is the internet shaped by its users? Does it enrich the lives of these users? Is it accessible to everyone?

As the internet leaps to our cars and homes and medical devices, we need to ensure we’re asking these questions, and upholding these principles.