New Delhi, December 11, 2014
With internet censorship and government surveillance on the rise, WWW inventor Tim Berners-Lee has said that it is time to recognize access to the web as a basic human right.
While releasing the Web Index annual report in London, Berners-Lee said, “It’s time to recognize the Internet as a basic human right. That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live.”
The Web Index, which measures the state of World Wide Web in 86 countries, is prepared by the World Wide Web Foundation, an organization founded by Berners-Lee in 2009.
The data revealed in the report suggests more countries are trying to control the internet and putting in place measures to monitor web users. According to the report moderate or extensive web censorship has been seen in 38 percent of countries this year, which marks an increase considering in 2013 this figure was 32 percent.
The Index ranks countries on the basis of how they are using the Internet. The countries that top the list are gaining most social and economic benefit from the web while the countries with poorer ranks are either misusing or not gaining by the use of it.
The list is topped by Scandinavian countries. Denmark with 100 points is at the top. Ethiopia, on the other hand, with zero points is at the bottom of the list.
India, is somewhere in the middle, although it scores lower than the global average of 46.30.
According to the report, India scores 44.06 points for universal access to the web, 57.42 for freedom and openness of internet and 40.41 for social and economic empowerment. With a total of 44.60 points, India is ranked 48 in the Web Index.
The neighboring countries Pakistan and Bangladesh lag behind with a global ranking of 76 and 63, respectively.
The Foundation calls for more uniformity in how people across the world use the web. “The richer and better educated people are, the more benefit they are gaining from the digital revolution. This trend can and must be reversed,” said Anne Jellema, CEO of the World Wide Web Foundation, and the lead author of the report. “Extreme disparities between rich and poor have been rightly identified as the defining challenge of our age, and we need to use technology to fight inequality, not increase it.”
The report also highlights the lack of legal protection that the majority of people across the world have against web surveillance. “Laws preventing bulk mass surveillance are weak or non-existent in over 84 per cent of countries, up from 63 per cent in 2013,” notes the report.
Berners-Lee says that he believes the web can be a force for good. “In an increasingly unequal world, the web can be a great leveler – but only if we hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality into the rules of the game,” he concluded.