Web Index Report Ranks Countries On Web Usage
September 6, 2012

Sweden Rated Highest On Tim Berners-Lee’s Web Index

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Sweden topped the list of a new global index of countries getting the most out of the Internet socially and politically, followed by the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Web Index was compiled by Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation, which ranked 61 countries in seven different categories -- communications infrastructure, institutional infrastructure, web content, web use, political impact, economic impact and social impact -- to evaluate the effect of the Internet in each area.

The Foundation said it created the index to help deepen our understanding of the impact of the Internet, and to raise awareness about the obstacles in making Web access more ubiquitous.

“There is relatively little public debate on the reasons why some countries have moved faster and more effectively than others to harness the Web as an accelerator of development,” the Foundation said in its report.

“To begin to address this gap, we have created an Index that combines existing secondary data with new primary data to rank countries according to their progress and use of the Web.”

“The Index is both an analytical tool for researchers and a resource for policy makers in various sectors, including the public sector, private sector, and NGOs.”

The report ranked Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. at the top of the index, followed by Canada, France, Switzerland, New Zealand, Australia, Norway and Ireland.

The index rated Iceland as having the greatest web use, with 95% of its population online. The country also gained the highest score for economic impact, with nearly 15% of its gross domestic product coming from ICT service exports between 2007 and 2010.

At the bottom of the index were Nepal, Mali, Bangladesh, Namibia, Ethiopia, Benin, Burkino Faso, Zimbabwe and Yemen.

The research found that while one in three people use the Web globally, fewer than one in six do so in Africa. Censorship and high broadband prices were cited as one of the biggest barriers to a "Web for all".

"By shining a light on the barriers to web for everyone, the index is a powerful tool that will empower individuals, government and organizations to improve their societies,” said Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

The Foundation´s evaluation found that 30% of countries face moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites, while roughly half show increasing threats to press freedom.

"The web is a global conversation. Growing suppression of free speech, both online and offline, is possibly the single biggest challenge to the future of the web," Berners-Lee said.

The index revealed that Internet access remains a luxury for citizens of most nations, with broadband access costing nearly half the monthly income per capita.

"The high price of connectivity is stopping billions of people from achieving their rights to knowledge and participation,” Berners-Lee said.

“Costs have got to come down dramatically.”

The Foundation said it wants to further address vital issues such as Internet freedom, Web controls, privacy and online freedom of expression.

"Given how important this issue is, we are hoping to be able to work with [various] organizations to expand country coverage and develop valuable data that will be useful for a variety of research projects, including the Index," the report read.