Tim Berners-Lee: Net Access Should Be a Basic Right

Access to the Internet should be recognized as a "basic human right," and more needs to be done to ensure that access isn't threatened by online traffic discrimination, censorship, spying or abuse of women and other marginalized groups, according to Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee. He made those remarks upon launching the World Wide Web Foundation's 2014-15 Web Index report on the Internet and its impacts on society, the economy and politics.

Established by Berners-Lee, the foundation has published its Web Index annually since 2012. This year's report finds that the Internet is becoming less free and more unequal for those who can access it. It also notes that the majority of people on Earth -- 4.3 billion, or 60 percent of the global population -- cannot yet get online at all.

"We can't take the equalising power of the Internet for granted," the report's executive summary says. "Current trends suggest that we now stand at a crossroads between a Web 'for everyone,' which strengthens democracy and creates equal opportunity for all, or a 'winner takes all' Web that further concentrates economic and political power in the hands of a few."

Denmark Tops the List

The 2014-15 Web Index ranks 86 countries according to four key characteristics: infrastructure and education that supports universal access to the Internet; online privacy and freedom of expression; availability of content that is relevant to users in languages and platforms they can understand; and empowerment, which assesses how the Web can help users foster positive changes in society, the economy, politics and the environment.

The top 10 countries with the greatest overall scores in those areas are 1) Denmark, 2) Finland, 3) Norway, 4) the UK/Northern Ireland, 5) Sweden, 6) the U.S., 7) Iceland, 8) South Korea, 9) the Netherlands, and 10) Belgium. The lowest-ranked countries included 77)...

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