ICELAND has topped a new study ranking countries on internet freedoms.
The island nation scored just six out of 40 possible points on the 2013 Freedom House Index, which measured obstacles to access, limits on content and violations of use. A lower score on the scale equated to more freedoms.
Estonia was ranked second, Germany third, the US fourth and Australia fifth.
The UK ranked 10th with a comparatively high percentage of violations of user rights compared to obstacles to access or limits on content.
The report is the Freedom House's fourth annual study of online freedoms.
"The internet is a crucial medium through which people can express themselves and share ideas and has become an increasingly important tool through which democracy and human rights activists mobilize and advocate for political, social, and economic reform," the independent watchdog said.
The 2013 study found internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of the 60 countries assessed experiencing a "negative trajectory" over the past year.
The study's authors attribute the decline to "broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content and arrests of social-media users".
They also acknowledged the internet is being used more effectively by activists to raise awareness and potentially prevent government oppression.