LONDON (AP) - The scientist credited with inventing the World Wide Web spoke
out Friday against what he called a “growing tide of surveillance and
censorship,” warning that it is threatening the future of democracy.
Tim Berners-Lee, who launched the Web in 1990, made the remarks as he
released his World Wide Web Foundation’s annual report tracking the Web’s
impact and global censorship. The index ranked Sweden first in Web access,
openness and freedom, followed by Norway, the U.K. and the United States.
"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
“But some governments are threatened by this, and a growing tide of
surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy,” he said,
adding that steps need to be taken to protect privacy rights and ensure
users can continue to gather and speak out freely online.
The report said online spying and blocking are on the rise around the world,
and politically sensitive Web content is blocked in almost one in three
countries. It also said that most countries surveyed have failed to use the
Web to properly disseminate basic information on health and education.
Despite their high overall rankings, the U.S. and Britain both received
mediocre scores for safeguarding users’ privacy. Mexico was the highest
ranking emerging economy at 30th. Russia came 41st, China was at 57th, and
Mali, Ethiopia and Yemen were at the bottom of the list.
About 39 percent of the global population was online in 2013 - more than
double from 2005, which recorded 16 percent. In Africa, fewer than one in
five people are using the Internet, with many saying they cannot afford it.