What makes the web different from the internet?

I’m not talking about specifics of protoocols like HTTP, but more the idea of who they shoudl work for.

Let’s look at the W3C Web Platform Design Principles

They start with a short preamble about principles. I think this is a good summary what many web developers who love the web appreciate about it.

Principles behind design of Web APIs

  1. Put user needs first (Priority of Constituencies)
  2. It should be safe to visit a web page
  3. Trusted user interface should be trustworthy
  4. Ask users for meaningful consent
  5. Use identity appropriately in context
  6. Support the full range of devices and platforms (Media Independence)
  7. Add new capabilities with care
  8. Remove or change capabilities only once you understand existing usage
  9. Leave the web better than you found it
  10. Minimize user data

Some of these seem quite radical in 2024, and yet they’re pretty much the principles for designing browsers / user agents. Think about the business models used by many browsers, or some of the biggest tech companies on the internet these days. Do their business models follow these principles?

These are informed and link to the W3C Technical Architecture Group Ethical Principles:


  1. There is one web
  2. The web does not cause harm to society
  3. The web supports healthy community and debate
  4. The web is for all people
  5. The web is secure, and respects peoples’ privacy
  6. The web enables freedom of expression
  7. The web makes it possible to verify information
  8. The web enhances individuals’ control and power
  9. The web is an environmentally sustainable platform
  10. The web is transparent
  11. The web is multi-browser, multi-OS and multi-device
  12. People can render web content as they want

There feel even more radical in 2024. I work at the Green Web organisation, and a chat with Michelle today made me realise how much of this is implicit to the two of us, rather than being things that sometimes need to be explicitly laid out to remind ourselves of why so many of us love the web, and how it’s different to the world of apps, and app stores.

Anyway. It seemed useful to have a public link for this thought to come back to later.