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The content impact

New survey reveals how online content delivered via the Internet improves people’s lives

Sir Tim Berners-Lee

A global survey launched by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, reveals that the Internet – and online content – can and has had a positive impact on people’s lives.

The World Wide Web Foundation’s Web Index measures the economic, social and political impact of the internet, ranking 61 countries on criteria ranging from the proportion of people online to the amount of useful content available. Sweden topped the list, with Australia coming in eighth.

Berners-Lee said the survey filled a need for uniform and publicly available data that allowed comparisons between countries and identified areas for improvement: ‘At a base level, (we are asking) are people actually connected? Have they got something like a phone on which they can access the web?

‘On the medium level, there is the content. At the top, is (the Internet) really affecting people’s lives? Can you get a job on the Internet? Are you using it for health, for education? Is it affecting the way you run the country?’

Although most people in the West take online content for granted, the survey showed that Internet access remains far from universal. Only one in three people used the Web globally and only one in six in Africa, which is home to seven of the bottom 10 countries in the survey.

‘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.”

Berners-Lee also said almost 30 per cent of the countries covered by the index faced moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites, while about half faced 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.’

The Web Index top 10

1. Sweden

2. United States

3. Britain

4. Canada

5. Finland

6. Switzerland

7. New Zealand

8. Australia

9. Norway

10. Ireland

The Web Index bottom 10

52. Nepal

53. Cameroon

54. Mali

55. Bangladesh

56. Namibia

57. Ethiopia

58. Benin

59. Burkina Faso

60. Zimbabwe

61. Yemen

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