Sweden tops Tim Berners-Lee's web index

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Sir Tim Berners-Lee: "We're setting the agenda"

Sweden has topped a new global index evaluating the state of the web in 61 countries, with the US coming second and the UK third.

Compiled by Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation, it ranked both the social and political impact of the web.

It found that only one in three people are using the web globally and fewer than one in six in Africa.

It highlighted censorship and high broadband prices as barriers to a "web for all".

Using data from the past five years, it scored nations in seven different categories.

These were: communications infrastructure - the state and availability of web-enabling infrastructure; institutional infrastructure - education, laws, regulation and censorship; web content - what relevant and useful content is available; web use - the extent to which the web is used in a country; political impact; economic impact and social impact.

According to the index, Iceland has the greatest web use, with 95% of its population online.

Ireland, which overall ranked 10th, gained the highest score for economic impact with 14.8% of its gross domestic product coming from ICT service exports between 2007 and 2010.

Yemen came bottom of the index in three categories, including social and economic impact of the web.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee explained why he thought such an index was important: "By shining a light on the barriers to web for everyone, the index is a powerful tool that will empower individuals, government and organisations to improve their societies."

'Global conversation'

According to the index, 30% of countries face moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites, while about half of them 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," warned Sir Tim.

Despite falling costs in western Europe, internet access remains a luxury in most countries, it suggested.

Across the 61 countries surveyed, broadband connections still cost almost half of monthly income per capita.

"The high price of connectivity is stopping billions of people from achieving their rights to to knowledge and participation.

Costs have got to come down dramatically," said Sir Tim.

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