New report provides insights into state of online freedom around the world
The World Wide Web Foundation has released a new report ranking the state of Internet policies around the world, with Sweden taking the top spot.
The Internet has played a major role in shaping the world of the 21st century. Users around the globe use the Internet for a number of their daily tasks. While some may use it every day for work, others can use it to gain valuable information about their daily lives. Further still, with the continued emergence of social media, many users are finding the ability to connect outside of cyberspace easier than ever before.
However, there are a number of factors that are prohibiting this kind of action. Some governments believe that the information its users can gain access to would be able to challenge their power. In order to prevent this data from getting into the hands of its citizens, these ruling powers have enacted a number of different methods from surveillance programs to outright censorship. Such actions have strictly limited the individual freedoms that users have on the Internet.
But these are not the only limitations on Internet freedoms according the WWWF's recent Web Index report. There are also socioeconomic factors getting in the way as well. For instance, low-paid workers, small farmers and women in developing countries are among the various groups in across the world that have limited access to the Internet. Be it not having the financial backing or social restrictions, there are still too many people who do not have ample online access.
Web Index report
These issues factored into the WWWF's most recent Web Index report, which rated the democratization of information and communication flows through cyberspace in a number of countries. There were a variety of positive and negative trends across the globe's cybernetworks. On the one hand, many people have been able to use the Internet to mobilize, but governments have also used it to enact these freedom limiting policies.
"One of the most encouraging findings of this year's Web Index is how the Web and social media are increasingly spurring people to organize, take action and try to expose wrongdoing in every region of the world," said Tim Berners-Lee the founder of the World Wide Web and foundation of this name sake.
"But some governments are threatened by this, and a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy. Bold steps are needed now to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and association online," he noted.
According to the report, 94 percent of the countries included in the report do not observe the best practices when it comes to employing the proper checks and balances on government surveillance. Further, moderate to extensive blocking of politically sensitive content was found in over 30 percent of countries included in the Web Index.
However, the report also found that citizens are using the Internet to confront important issues as well. Web and social media helped mobilize the public in 80 percent of the nations included in the study.
Sweden, Norway, the UK and US were the top four when it comes to developed countries included in the study. However, the UK and US have also enacted particularly extensive surveillance programs as well. Mexico, Colombia and Brazil were the top three emerging countries, while the Philippines, Indonesia and Kenya were the top 3 developing countries.
This report echoes some of the same sentiments as that of a similar one conducted by Freedom House. For instance, the United States and UK were found near the top of the list, with the Philippines and Kenya also performing quite well.
Going forward it is important that citizens continue to use the Internet to help support social good so that more people may have access to the Internet and its positive elements.