W3C TAG Ethical Web Principles (transcript)

Hi everybody. I hope your TPAC has been great so far.

I’m Tess. If you don’t know me, I’m a TAG participant, Apple’s AC rep, and I do a bunch of other stuff around here too.

Anyway, let’s talk about the Ethical Web Principles document. Again. (Some of you may remember me speaking about it last year.)

For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Ethical Web Principles document sets out to concisely state the ethical principles which underpin all of our technical work here at the W3C.

So what’s new since we spoke last year? We’ve received a bunch of comments on the document from many of you and various other folk in the W3C community. People have filed a bunch of issues, and we’ve had some PRs come in too.

One question we got in last year’s AC meeting was if we had sought any feedback from tech ethicists and other experts outside of the W3C community. We did, but the document doesn’t have an acknowledgments section, so this isn’t obvious to people reading the document. We’ve got a PR up that adds one.

Last year I told you that we intend for the document to be elevated to a W3C Statement. Once we land the acknowledgments section we’ll issue a call for wide review, which is the next step toward the document becoming a W3C Statement. After we address all of the wide review feedback that comes in, we’ll ask the Team to kick off an AC review. No one’s ever elevated a document to W3C Statement before, so we expect a few bumps on the road, but we’re happy to be the first to try, and afterwards we’ll provide feedback to the Process CG about how it went and how it could have gone more smoothly.

So, how does this document affect our day to day work? As you probably know, the TAG does lots of design reviews of proposed Web platform features. Lots and lots of design reviews. We try to capture what we learn during these reviews in the Web Platform Design Principles document. If you look in the design principles doc, you’ll see many references back to the ethical web principles document.

But we’re not the only group that does reviews around here. The W3C prides itself on its focus on several areas of horizontal review: accessibility, internationalization, privacy, and security. We (the TAG) are working with PING on a Privacy Principles document that Jeffrey’s going to talk with you about in a few minutes. We’d love to see similar principles documents arise in each of the other areas of horizontal review, and we’d love to help.

Okay, so, how do we make sure these principles aren’t just words on paper? Well, I’m an engineer. I like to have some kind of quantifiable measurement of the progress I’m making towards my goals. How do we, the members of the W3C, evaluate how well we are living up to these principles? How can we measure our progress? How do we hold ourselves accountable? This is my question and challenge to you all.