A report from the World Wide Web Foundation says that web users are at increasing risk of online censorship and government surveillance with weak or non-existent laws to prevent this happening in 8 out of 10 countries.
The foundation, which is led by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, measured the web’s contribution to the social, economic and political progress of 86 countries.
The report found that:
- Three-quarters of the countries either discriminate or have a lack of net neutrality
- The same proportion don’t do anything to prevent discrimination against women
- 62% said that the web played a major role in sparking social or political action
Its Annual Web Index marked countries in terms of:
- Universal access
- Relevant content and use
- Freedom and openness
- United Kingdom
For a full list go to the Web Index
Anne Jellema, the Web Foundation’s CEO said that “the richer and better educated people are, the more they benefit from the digital revolution. Extreme disparities between rich and poor have been rightly identified as the defining challenge of our age and we need to use technology to fight inequality, not increase it”
Sir Tim Berners-Lee thinks that a good starting point would be to recognise the internet as a basic human right. “Ensuring affordable access with internet packets being delivered without commercial or political interference while preserving and protecting the privacy of net users regardless of where they live”
This report came out on the day David Cameron, the British PM, announcing that a new unit was being set up jointly with the electronic spy centre at GCHQ and the National Crime Agency.
Its role would be to track paedophiles and people who were posting photos and films of child abuse on the “dark net”.
The National Technical Assistance Centre at GCHQ has apparently been helping police for a number of years but the number of people logging on to encrypted sites has been increasing. Leading internet company Google has developed a method of tagging videos which it is sharing with its rivals. This will allow the Internet Watch Foundation to more easily block child abuse images.
So two conflicting views; one that the internet should be free and private, and one that thinks criminals (and its not just those dealing in child porn but in weapons and drugs) and terrorists shouldn’t be able to hide behind encrypted sites.