The UK has fewer internet freedoms than seven other countries, including Estonia and the Philippines, according to a report by Washington-based NGO Freedom House.
The ranking is based on digital freedoms, such as access to the internet and online freedom of expression laws. Estonia scores the highest, with citizens there even being allowed to vote online.
The US came second and Germany third. The UK performed badly in comparison with Estonia in terms of restrictions on online activity, surveillance and privacy, according to the Telegraph.
The report comes as a parliamentary committee hears a submission on the ” the Draft Data Communications Bill, which will make it easier for authorities to access citizens’ electronic communications, including emails, mobile calls and internet activity.
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales slammed the proposed legislation as “technologically incompetent”, while world wide web inventor, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, described the move as “dangerous” even before the draft legislation was published.
The report comes a month after Google reported that the number of UK government requests for users' private data had increased by 25% compared with the previous year.
Worldwide, Freedom House found that “restrictions on internet freedom in many countries have continued to grow, though the methods of control are slowly evolving and becoming less visible.”
Pro-government bloggers are hired on a regular basis to reflect the official line and spread false information about unfolding events in many countries, and content is often blocked and filtered, according to the report.
In 19 of the 47 countries highlighted, the report said physical violence is used to punish people who have posted content online.
The Freedom House report comes within days of several countries blocking access to YouTube because of an anti-Muslim video posted on the Google-owned service.
Read more on Telecoms networks and broadband communications
How Estonia’s country-as-a-service scheme has attracted tens of thousands of foreign entrepreneurs
Estonian government opens its digital heart to tech testers
Joint parliamentary committee to scrutinise Online Safety Bill
Estonian police and border services need better IT to block criminals from becoming e-residents