The World Wide Web Foundation, founded by the Web’s creator Tim Berners-Lee, released today its first-ever Web Index, a comprehensive study of the World Wide Web and its impact on countries around the world.
Covering 61 “developed and developing nations” across the globe, the Web Index assess the political, economic, and social “impact” of the Web on each country, as well as each country’s “Web readiness” and “Web use.” Each country is scored in these categories to give an overall score for each country.
The highest scorer on the list is Sweden, with a perfect score of 100. The United States comes in second, with a 97.31, followed by the United Kingdom (93.83), Canada (93.42), and Finland (91.88), to round out the top five.
Contributing the most to Sweden‘s winning score were high marks in the Web’s impact on its citizenry, the country’s policies toward the Web, and the Web’s social impact. Its lowest score (89.36) was in the “economic” category.
The U.S. scored a perfect “100” in the categories of “Web content” (we produce the most Web content of any country), and “institutional infrastructure,” which the Web Foundation defines as “policies regulating Web access and skill and educational levels enabling the full benefit of the Web.” The lowest score (82.57) came from “communications infrastructure,” the physical infrastructure of our Internet. As Venture Beat points out, we also have a lower percentage of our population connected to the Web than other countries in the Web Index’s top 10, and slower average connection speeds.
The lowest-scoring country on the list is Yemen, with a frustrating score of zero. The developing Middle Eastern nation does get a 12.1 in the “Readiness” category. Zimbabwe is next-to-last, with an overall score of 1.94.
The Web Foundation says that censorship and threats to freedom of speech rank as primary struggle for the Web today. According to the Web Index, nearly 30 percent of countries analyzed for the index “face moderate to severe government restrictions on access to websites,” and roughly half have imposed policies or actions that threaten freedom of the press.
“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,” said Berners-Lee in a statement.