Contract Terms of Reference

The Contract for the Web is a collaborative initiative that brings together ​governments​​, companies​​, ​civil society organisations​​ and individuals around the world to collectively define each party’s responsibilities towards ensuring ​a free, open and fair web for everyone.

The Contract for the Web is guided by a set of high-level principles that outline our collective vision for the future of the web. Over the next few months, signatories to these principles will debate and negotiate the full details and commitments to be outlined in the Contract.

The ultimate goal is for the Contract for the Web to be a strong mechanism for each party to be held accountable for doing their part to build an open and free web.

Levels of engagement

A Core Group will be engaged for the duration of the process and will steer the process and help to synthesise feedback during its stages. This group will ensure the effective negotiation of the Contract and the highest quality outcome.

Working groups will be developed representing a mix of governments, companies, civil society organisations and open web activists. The working groups will each go in depth on a specific theme of the Contract and provide advice to the Core Group on what the Contract should include.

An online consultation process will allow anyone, from any sector, to provide feedback through a series of survey questions that will feed into the development of the Contract by the Core Group. Partner organisations are encouraged to hold Contract for the Web Deliberation events throughout the process. These events can engage all three stakeholder groups (governments, companies, citizens) and partners will be provided with a toolkit for hosting these events so that the feedback generated can feed into the overall process.

The Contract activities are coordinated by the Web Foundation, who provides the necessary resources and guidance for the groups to operate.


The Core Group will ensure the effective negotiation of the Contract. This group is responsible for the release of the Contract in a timely manner and for the outcome of this process to be of the highest quality.


As an executive body, the Core Group:

  • Provides leadership for the Contract spearheading the development, establishment and maintenance of principles, participating in relevant conferences on behalf of the Contract, and any international opportunities of interest to promote the Contract;
  • Steers the agenda and direction of the Contract, with commitment to its principles, founding nature and goals;
  • Makes recommendations for participants of each Working Group;
  • Conducts ongoing outreach;
  • Sets, carries out and reports on concrete action items and deliverables.

Composition and membership

Reflecting the joint multi-stakeholder nature of the Contract, the Core Group is comprised of government, company and civil society representatives that together guide the ongoing development and direction of the Contract, maintaining the highest standards for the initiative.

Core Group members are expected to contribute their efforts and expertise to Contract initiatives, discussions, and decision-making processes.

The group will have a maximum of 10 members from the signatories of the Contract principles. There can be more than one individual representing a single stakeholder but for any decision making, their opinions (and eventually votes) will be counted by the Chair(s) as one.

The group will ensure sector and geographical diversity as well as gender balance but must not have over 70% of representation from one single sector, geography, or gender identity.

The initial members of the Core Group are: AnchorFree,, CIPESA, Google, Government of France, Government of Germany, The New Now, and the Web Foundation (Chair).

The group can be contacted at:


Unless the group decides to disband 30 days after the launch of the Contract, membership to the Core Group lasts for two years, with the possibility of a one renewal for a period of no more than two additional years. Members that would like to seek a renewal of core group membership have to be re-elected by their peers in the group. Selection of successor members after the expiration of current terms will be done by the group.

The current members, in consultation with other signatories as needed, may install a selection committee to organize the rotation of participating members every two years.

The group may invite expressions of interest when a particular expertise or need arises, from the current Contract signatories at that time. The Chair will maintain a comprehensive list of members.

Group members may resign from their position at any time by informing the Chair of their decision in writing. If a member is removed or resigns, the group will decide whether a new representative will be selected to fill that seat and when.

Governance of the Group

The group will have one Chair. The Web Foundation will provide the Chair and additional staff members support the group.

It is the responsibility of the Chair, to:

  • ensure the rules of order are followed;
  • convene the group;
  • facilitate group discussions towards reaching consensus;
  • ensure the milestones are met and deliverables are dispatched in a timely manner;
  • and take decisions by majority, in consultation with the core group, when consensus among the members of the group can not be reached.

Decision making

Decisions are to be made by the group in its meetings or by electronic communications where meetings are not practical.  In making decisions, members are to seek to achieve consensus; failing consensus, decisions are to be made by voting. In the case of tied votes, the Chair would cast a second and determining vote. A quorum is established when at least 50% percent of the members are present, including at least one member from each of the three represented sectors.

Group members may vote by proxy if they are unable to attend voting sessions. Members may choose to bring guest observers to meetings, with prior approval from the Chair. Such guest observers are not to participate in voting.

Values and Mechanisms

Rules of order

  • Mutual respect
  • Equal consideration of all points of view
  • Fair representation of concerns and interests
  • Respect that some discussions within the group may be confidential


Meetings can take a number of formats, including in person, calls and group chats during a common time. Meetings must be as participatory as possible, enabling remote engagement where needed.

The Web Foundation will provide one or more Scribes who will be responsible for ‘mapping the conversation’ through note taking or other means.

Group members are strongly encouraged to engage the public, either within their sector networks or otherwise, on the Contract for the Web process. The Web Foundation will provide a platform and assist Group members in developing blog posts, press releases, videos and other means of updating and engaging with the general public.

During a series of key revision points during the consultation process, the group will review and use draft language and key considerations put forward by members of the Working Groups and ensure it is properly reflected into the Contract as a consistent and coherent document.

During the final meeting, the group should agree on the final language of the Contract.

Meetings, proceedings and time requirements

The Chair is responsible for organizing the meetings of the group (a minimum of two and a maximum of six per year). The group may call additional meetings as needed. The Chair must provide and ensure the group takes advantage of collaborative online venues and tools to conduct its activities.

In order to ensure that members have sufficient notice to make themselves available for meetings, the Chair will provide written notice of upcoming meetings at least 1 week in advance of the meeting date for teleconferences and 4 weeks in advance for in-person meetings.

In order to keep a good working level, any group member who misses more than two consecutive meetings, including virtual meetings, may receive a formal warning, and may subsequently be removed from the group.

Meeting Attribution and Publication of Meeting Materials

Summaries of group’s meetings will be made publicly available. Members of the group may request exceptions of attribution in the notes of the meetings.

Use of social media channels is allowed at all meetings unless a closed session is requested by a member. Use of social media should follow a rule of non-attribution to individual participants and photos of individuals should only be published after approval by the individuals pictured in it.

Whenever possible, policy documents circulated for discussion ahead of meetings should also be published on the website and/or shared working space (along with agenda and participant lists), and are to be marked as drafts.


The working language of the Contract and the normative language for documentation to be produced is English. Discussions and meetings are to be conducted in English.

The Contract recognizes the necessity of using multiple languages to support full participation in a multilateral initiative and it will make the efforts to make key documentation available in a variety of languages. The Contract also encourages participating and like-minded organizations to undertake translations of materials with appropriate credits and disclaimers.