The internet is a moveable feast. It’s still in its youth, but billions of children and youngsters have grown up in a connected world and don’t remember life without it. The online landscape has completely changed the way humans interact, engage and do business. So what are the five biggest issues for today’s internet?
Identity theft :
Identity theft is where a criminal uses someone else’s identifying information, for example their name, National Insurance or NHS number, credit cards and so on, without their permission, for fraudulent purposes. The phrase itself was coined way back in 1964, but the internet has brought the issue to the fore. Online payments, computer viruses, insecure connections and wide-open public broadband have all played their part in making identity theft a huge issue for the internet. Like so much online, the solution seems to have two parts: one, educating people to take the best possible care of their data and two, tools and software designed especially to mitigate the risks. Because criminals and hackers are constantly innovating new ways to steal our data, it looks like it’ll be a long, hard-fought, on-going battle for the foreseeable future.
Whatever happened to the real world?
If you’ve ever seen someone walk into a lamp post because they’re too busy staring at their smartphone or tablet screen to watch where they’re going, you’ll appreciate the sentiment. If your child spends all their time locked away gaming online, you’ll probably be aware of the increase in rickets in the Western world, a disease becoming more common for the first time in a long time because youngsters aren’t getting enough sunshine, so don’t build up the stocks of vitamin D they need to stay healthy. What long-term health effects will spending all our waking hours online have? And what about our perceptions about – and involvement with – the real, non-virtual world? The jury is out, and only time will tell.
Delivering the best search results :
When you type your query into Google, you expect the search engine to deliver the most relevant and useful results. It sounds simple, but with millions of new pieces of content going online every day, how will the search engines of the future be able to ensure users get what they want? The big-name engines are currently approaching the issue by personalizing search results, which means tailoring what you see based on what you’ve enjoyed before. Some people feel this sounds the death knell for serendipity because we will only see what Google and co thinks we want to see. Local-ness is also a biggie, with search results tailored to geographical location. Neither solution is perfect, and it’ll be interesting to see how search engines subdivide, rank and rate such vast amounts of information in the future.
Everyone knows how serious offline bullying is. It makes people unhappy, ruins confidence and can even lead to suicide. But trolling – online bullying – takes things a step further. Some experts feel the anonymity of the internet makes it easier for those inclined to bully to push out the bullying boat. Others feel the reasons are much more complex. Whatever motivates trolls, it appears to be a growing issue. And the solution appears to be much the same as offline: a combination of education and practical online safeguards such as moderation and anti-trolling software. With one in ten youngsters confessing to vInspirethat they’ve engaged in trolling, the subject deserves careful monitoring.
Illegal file-sharing :
The illegal file-sharing issue has been rumbling on for a decade or more, but there still isn’t a solid solution in sight. If a file is uploaded online, people will want to share it – that’s the nature of the beast. But the music and film industries are still struggling with the logic: how to present their products online and make money while preventing theft. The latest new copyright protection, targeted at internet service providers, came into effect recently. The Copyright Alert System is a collaboration between copyright owners and ISPs, and it’s set to either force users who illegally download copyrighted material to attend education programmed or cut the speeds of their internet connections to a crawl. Will it deter people from copying and sharing? Again, the jury is out.
Written by Kat Kraetzer, a blogger interested in internet security and social media trends.Image of Internet Explorer symbol by Sean MacEntee