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Web Index shows internet surveillance is on the rise

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

15 December 2014

This week, the World Wide Web Foundation released its annual Web Index, a report on how the world is using the internet to progress socially, economically and politically. The organization, started by the inventor of the world wide web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, is dedicated to keeping the internet free and accessible to all – in fact, Sir Berners-Lee this week stated that the internet should be seen as a basic human right.

This year’s report was incredibly encouraging in some ways. For example, research showed that even though 4.3 billion people have no access to the web, accessibility is on the rise globally, with northern Europe especially pushing for faster speeds, easier access and fewer restrictions.

However, in terms of privacy and security, the report wasn’t quite as positive.

According to the Web Index, 1.8 billion people – half of those who have access to the internet – face “significant restrictions” on their online activity, and nearly 40% of countries surveyed were found to be blocking access to “sensitive” content to a “moderate or extreme degree”.

But it’s not just censorship; the report also looks at what governments are doing to protect their citizens from online surveillance. It was found that the number of countries with weak or nonexistent legal safeguards in place is growing, while the number of countries with adequate policies to fight surveillance is falling. The report states that 84% of countries “do not have effective laws and practices to protect the privacy of its online communication”.

While this is shocking in itself, what’s more surprising is the list of countries that scored less than three out of ten in terms of protecting web users against surveillance. Alongside more openly restrictive countries such as China, Russia and Turkey were the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and France – countries that are considered to be bastions of freedom and free speech.

Here at SurfEasy, we’re passionate about a free and open internet, which is why this year, when the Turkish government blocked access to certain social media sites, we jumped to offer Turkish users a discount on our VPN service. However, it seems that the reality is that many of us in supposedly “safer” Western countries need to protect ourselves, as our governments won’t do it for us.

SurfEasy VPN allows you to browse the internet completely anonymously, and as we’re a no-log VPN, we don’t store information about your browsing, your downloads, or any of your online activity. A VPN can keep you safe online and can help to protect your privacy even when others won’t.

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