Australia ranked 11th in 2013 web index

Australia has "inadequate safeguards and due process against government digital surveillance", according to an index which examines the freedom of the web.

Australia has just missed out on a top 10 ranking on an index that measures the growth, freedom and utility of the world wide web in 81 countries, with concerns raised over inadequate safeguards against state surveillance.

Australia came in 11th overall in the Web Index 2013 with Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom filling the top three places on the table.

New Zealand was fifth on the index which was first released in 2012 by web inventor Tim Berners-Lee's foundation.

The Philippines is the highest placed developing country overall this year with a ranking of 38.

Australia is ranked second when it comes to providing access to "relevant content", but is let down in other areas.

We are 15th on the sub-index which measures "universal access" and a relatively lowly 30th when it comes to having a "free and open" web.

The 2013 index report, to be officially launched in London on Friday, states that Australia, along with the United States and the UK, has inadequate safeguards and due process against government digital surveillance.

"While developing countries are most likely to resort to blocking and filtering to control online communication, thanks to Edward Snowden we now know that the developed world is far more likely to spy on such communications," the report states.

"It has been suggested that the knowledge that someone is tracking what you say and do online may be more likely to produce self-censorship than overt banning of certain websites."

The positive news, however, is that Australians have very good access to online information and services relevant to their daily needs, World Wide Web Foundation chief executive Anne Jellema told AAP.

"That's because large numbers of them are active users of the web and social media and because there is a rich and extensive body of local information and services available to them," she said.

The "relevant content" sub-index examines the provision of government services online and access to information on topics such as health, climate change, school performance and women's rights.

Sir Tim said the web and social media were increasingly spurring people to try and expose wrongdoing in every region of the world.

"But some governments are threatened by this, and a growing tide of surveillance and censorship now threatens the future of democracy," the web creator said in a statement.

"Bold steps are needed to protect our fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of opinion and association online."

Friday's report suggests 94 per cent of the 81 countries surveyed do not meet best practice standards for checks and balances on government interception of electronic communications.

Source AAP

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