LONDON (Reuters) - The inventor of the Worldwide Web said on Thursday access to the internet should be regarded as a basic human right and criticised growing censorship by governments and commercial manipulation.
The World Wide Web Foundation created by Tim Berners-Lee said some 38 percent of states denied free internet use to citizens.
Laws preventing bulk mass surveillance were weak or non-existent in more than 84 percent of countries, up from 63 percent in 2013, it said. Moderate or extensive censorship was seen in 38 percent of countries, up from 32 percent in 2013.
"It’s time to recognise the Internet as a basic human right," he said in a statement.
"That means guaranteeing affordable access for all, ensuring Internet packets are delivered without commercial or political discrimination, and protecting the privacy and freedom of Web users regardless of where they live."
The countries that scored lowest in allowing people to benefit from the Internet were Yemen, Myanmar and Ethiopia, while Denmark, Finland and Norway topped the rankings, which score access, freedom and openness, relevant content and social, economic and political empowerment.
Media reports based on previously top secret documents stolen by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, a U.S. citizen now living in Moscow, laid bare the extent of U.S. and British surveillance, including demands spies made to telephone and technology companies.
Concerns have also been raised by some about monitoring of browsing patterns or manipulation by commercial organisations.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle)