Negotiations Between MIT and the New W3C Organization Seem to Be Going Poorly

James Hercher, writing at Ad Exchanger in April:

The Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C), the main technical standards developer of the internet (HTML and CSS, the code underlying the web, are two such W3C standards), will lose longtime university partner MIT as administrator and US host organization at the end of this year.


Without a new structure and financial plan in place for 2023, why haven’t W3C members panicked about what looks like a potential looming catastrophe? Despite W3C executives being hard at work on a potential solution for more than the past year, they haven’t made much progress.

In June, the W3C announced its transition:

The World Wide Web Consortium is set to pursue 501(c)(3) non-profit status. The launch as a new legal entity in January 2023 preserves the core mission of the Consortium to shepherd the web by developing open standards with contributions from W3C Members, staff, and the international community.

Robin Berjon, who is on the board of this new entity, posted a status update today, and it is worrisome:

At this point it looks like we will not have an operational W3C nonprofit on Jan 1. Every Director will vote their conscience, but it seems likely that the asset transfer will be rejected, leaving MIT responsible for its contracts with W3C Members (for which they have paid).

No one knows what happens then.

These stumbling negotiations will not ensure the immediate collapse of the web or anything like that, but it sounds like MIT is parting from the W3C in the most difficult way possible. It is worth keeping an eye on this.