Report: Internet Restrictions Ranked Worldwide

John Lister's picture

Nine in ten Americans are now online according to new figures. But it's the United Kingdom that is "most online" and least subject to Internet restrictions.

The figures come from Proxyrack, a company with a clear interest in places where users may want to disguise their identity of location. It wanted to see if there was any connection between how widespread Internet use was and how freely people could use the Internet. (Source: proxyrack.com)

The usage figures came from Statista and shows 99,231 out of every 100,000 people in the UK had used the internet recently. That was followed by Japan, France and Germany, with the US in fifth place on 90,810 per 100,000.

That's not necessarily definitive as the calculation and estimate methods may vary from country to country. More to the point, the figures only covered 20 countries. That said, the variation in Internet use is certainly shown by "last place" Bangladesh where only 30,715 out of every 100,000 people were online.

Freedom Rated

Proxyrack also looked at three ways to measure Internet restrictions. First it looked at how many restrictions a country had from a list of 11, including bans on things as diverse as political media, pornography, social media and torrents.

Next, it looked at whether or not each country had "banned or heavily restricted social media." Finally, it looked at the "Internet Freedom Score" for each country from the US-based organization Freedom House. (Source: freedomhouse.org)

These three factors were combined to make an overall Internet restriction score out of 10, with a higher score meaning more restrictions. The UK was the only country with a score of 0, meaning no restrictions, which may come as a surprise to users whose internet providers enforce court bans on named torrent sites.

Internet Widely Used In 'Free' Countries

It turned out the five least restricted sites almost perfectly matched the rankings for highest proportion of users online, with the only change being Germany and France switching places.

However, the connection didn't hold out elsewhere, with China and Iran the most restricted countries when it comes to the Internet despite widespread use.

If there is any connection, it may not be as simple as usage restrictions deterring people from using the Internet. Instead, it may be that there's a more indirect connection between countries where poor infrastructure and lower wealth stop people getting online, and countries with governments and political systems more likely to restrict freedoms, particularly when it comes to political opposition online.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you think content and usage restrictions affect overall internet use? Would you have estimated more or less than 90.8 percent of Americans are online? What factors do you think are important in assessing whether people can use the Internet "freely"?

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Comments

bigton's picture

Firstly I must say, coming from Scotland, that being told that the UK is the least restricted comes as a bit of a surprise. There has been much in the media about GCHQ wanting to record every email, phone call, or other messages, and many people believe they are already doing it. This is how they are able to use algorithms to pick up words and phrases to lead them to those who might be inclined to commiting a terrorist act. So on the face of things we might seem as if we have enviable freedom, but deeper down, we are just as watched and checked as anybody else.