With all of the discussions about the Web regarding net neutrality and privacy, organizations such as the World Wide Web Foundation are fighting for an affordable and unrestricted Web. Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the organization's founding director and the man widely credited for creating the World Wide Web in 1989, said (according to a Web Index blog post) that Internet access is a human right. He also said that the foundation's vision can only be reached if people "hardwire the rights to privacy, freedom of expression, affordable access and net neutrality into the rules of the game."
The foundation's release of a new report, the Web Index, shows that the world is far from achieving its goal. By examining issues such as net neutrality, censorship, and gender-based violence in 86 countries, the report shows some staggering results. In 2013, 63 percent of countries had weak or even nonexistent laws against mass surveillance. The Web Index now reports that percentage has risen to 84 percent.
In terms of censorship, 38 percent of the countries observed are moderately or heavily censoring political and socially sensitive content. Only a quarter of the countries assessed have proper laws with clear rules about net neutrality. In order to combat this trend, the foundation is hoping politicians take on a number of issues such as providing high-quality education for everyone, pushing for universal Web access, and using the Web to push for government transparency while also protecting freedom of speech.
Berners-Lee's comments echo that of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who in August 2013 talked about providing universal Internet access in a document called "Is Connectivity a Human Right?". Zuckerberg's comments came along with the launch of Internet.org, which aims to make the Internet available in every part of the world. The initiative also includes support from Facebook, Samsung, Qualcomm, Opera Software, Nokia, Mediatek, and Ericsson. Google is also pushing for a similar goal with Project Loon, which just finished the first round of tests for its balloon-powered Internet provider.
Unfortunately, the change demanded from Berners-Lee and Zuckerberg won't happen overnight. However, the fact that the fight to change the state of the Web is supported by these big names as well as huge and well-known companies that provide credibility to the seriousness of these Web issues. With this level of support, the hope is that lawmakers will take these issues seriously and push for a cheap, uncensored, and equal Internet for all.