The number of citizens worldwide using the Internet to access government services or products during the past 12 months increased 15 per cent, according to the second Government Online Study published Thursday by the London-based market research company Taylor Nelson Sofres PLC.
Globally, three out of 10 citizens, or 30 per cent, said they had accessed government services online, compared with 26 per cent a year ago.
Countries showing the highest increases include Australia (from 31 per cent to 46 per cent), Turkey (from 3 per cent to 13 per cent), the Netherlands (from 31 per cent to 41 per cent) and the U.S. (from 24 per cent to 43 per cent.)
By comparison, usage of government online services dropped in Japan by 4 per cent, from 17 per cent to 13 per cent.
Countries showing the highest levels of e-government usage are Sweden (57 per cent of the population), Norway (56 per cent), and Singapore and Denmark (both 53 per cent), according to the study.
Countries with the lowest level of usage were Japan and the U.K., each with 13 per cent of the population.
Around the world the proportion of Internet users who made transactions using government services online is equal to the proportion of users who made online shopping transactions. Fifteen per cent of Internet users made an online government transaction and the same percentage made an online purchase at least once during the past 12 months.
Perceptions of safety about disclosing personal information such as credit cards and account numbers online improved globally during 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres. Some 23 per cent of citizens worldwide said they feel safe about providing this information over the Internet.
However, when it comes to the safety of government online services, perceptions differ widely around the globe. One third of citizens in the Scandinavian countries-Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden-and in two southeast Asian nations-Singapore and Hong Kong-perceive government Web services to be safe.
In contrast, 90 per cent of Japanese citizens, 82 per cent of German citizens and 76 per cent of French citizens view government online services as unsafe.