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The Future of the Web

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Future Threats: Four Trends That Could Cripple the New Internet

54% of readers say security/privacy attacks will be the Web's biggest threat. Source: poll
Illustration: Harry Campbell
The Web's potential is limitless, but these four issues could really mess things up.

No Net neutrality: Congress is evaluating whether to give big telecom companies the right to charge companies for a guarantee of faster access. But once Big Telecom gets its way, critics fear, small, innovative new companies could be crowded out by the Microsofts and Googles, which can afford to pay for good access.

Copyright complaints: In August, the reporter who caught the Rodney King beating on tape sued YouTube because someone uploaded the video to the site. Universal Music Group may sue YouTube and MySpace over users uploading copyrighted video. Kill the messengers, and we could lose vital outlets for public opinion and discourse.

Security concerns: The pace at which customers are moving to online banking has slowed, in large part because they are worried about online security. Banks have investigated interesting concepts such as using secure RSS feeds, which would allow you to receive, for example, credit card activity alerts in a feed--though banks have their own security concerns to worry about if they add such services. Until the Web gets safer, these kinds of issues won't be resolved.

Crappy connectivity: Upstream bandwidths are still constricted, making uploading things like video files a time-consuming task. Furthermore, usable mobile bandwidth still costs an arm and a leg, and some carriers impose annoying limitations on how you can employ Web access.

Working the Web 2.0

Browser-based productivity tools may be the way of the future, but are they ready now?

To see if currently available Web-based productivity apps can replace Microsoft Office, PC World Editor in Chief Harry McCracken spent ten days trying to work exclusively on the Web. Read his day-by-day account of the surprising successes and frequent frustrations.

Special Report: Tomorrow's Technology

The Future of Your PC The Future of Robots
The Future of Cell Phones The Future of Privacy
The Future of the Web The Future of Nanotech
The Future of OSs The Future of You
The Future of Fun 100 Fearless Forecasts
Incredible Tech: Lies Ahead A Look Back
Alan Stafford is the senior writer for PC World.
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