The UK is the third most advanced country in terms of its use of the world-wide web, according to a new index unveiled by web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee.
Compiled by World Wide Web Foundation, the Web Index assessed the social, political and economic impact of the web in 61 countries across all continents.
The UK ranked second overall for the availability of content on the web and its usage among the population, and fourth in terms of the economic impact of the web.
Sweden ranked first among all countries overall, thanks in part to the country’s strong Internet infrastructure. The Foundation noted, however, that in terms of the actual use of the web, Sweden has "definite room for improvement".
"According to our data, while roughly 91% of Sweden’s population uses the web, the information available to them is surprisingly low compared with other top-ranking nations," it said.
In second place, the US scored highly for the availability of web content, but fell behind on the accessibility of the web to the general population. "The US has a lower percentage of households with personal computers than a raft of countries, including Canada, Ireland, Japan and Norway. It also offers slower bandwidth per Internet user than
a range of countries."
According to Jeff Jaffe, non-executive director of the World Wide Web Foundation, the index is "a tool that policy-makers can use to diagnose and identify strengths and weakness to create a platform for improvement. When you consider the criticality of the web as a core infrastructure for everything from entertainment to commerce, from government to education, this is a key critical infrastructure for the world."
However, the report found that almost 30% of countries covered by the index face moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites. "The web is a global conversation," wrote Berners-Lee in the index report. "Growing suppresion of free speech, both online and offline, is possible the single biggest challenge to the future of the Web."