A worldwide measure of the web's use and utility.
Since it was launched a generation ago, the Web has changed life for many millions, yet more than 60 percent of the global population doesn’t have access to it, according to the World Wide Web Foundation. This week, the nonprofit founded by British computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the Web, released its first Web Index, billed as “the world’s first multi-dimensional measure of the Web’s use, utility and impact on people and nations.”
Sweden came in first out of the 61 nations in the rankings, which take into account a country’s connectivity (determined by infrastructure and government policies), actual use of the Web, and the social, economic and political impact of the Web. At No. 2, the U.S. excels in terms of Web content but a bit less so in terms of Web impact. Rounding out the top 5 are the U.K., Canada and Finland (which established broadband access as a basic right in 2010 legislation). The bottom of the list is dominated by Africa and the Middle East, with Yemen coming in last. The BBC reports that just 1 in 6 people in Africa are using the Web. Beyond access issues, around 1 in 3 countries face moderate to severe government restrictions on Web usage.
In the 21st century, the digital have-nots will be at an increasingly great disadvantage. The Berners-Lee foundation is looking to make the issue of access to the information society “as important as access to water and vaccinations,” states the report.