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Enter the 15th Annual Webby Awards

Webby Judges Identify Top Challenges for the Internet

On the heels of the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web last month, the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS) has identified the top five challenges facing the medium in the next five years.

Dedicated to the creative, technical, and professional progress of the Internet, IADAS’ 750 global members serve as the judging body of The Webby Awards, the leading international honors for excellence on the Internet. Members of the Academy range from Internet co-inventor Vinton Cerf, Martha Stewart, and Arianna Huffington to Federated Media founder John Battelle and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone.

As the Web enters its third decade and The Webby Awards marks its 15th year in June 2011, the Academy believed the timing was right to focus attention on the future of the medium.

The Internet's Top Challenges In the Next 5 Years

Protecting Privacy
The Internet's great trade-off is that while you get access to the rest of the world, the rest of the world gets access to you. The data collected can add value to the online experience through customized content and advertising – but such an extensive record of personal information can pose risks to consumers. The industry must take steps to demystify the privacy debate by establishing global standards, providing transparent policies, and educating consumers on its practices.

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Modernizing Copyright Laws
Is it okay to copy an album and give it to a friend? How many paragraphs should one quote from an online news article? Will we ever be able to pass along an e-book to a colleague? As the Web enters its third decade, the answers to these questions remain unclear. The Internet’s power as a medium through which creators can distribute their work continues to grow, yet the current copyright laws are hopelessly out of date. For the Internet to fulfill its potential, new and modernized copyright laws must reflect the current relationship between technology and creativity.

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Ensuring Net Neutrality
Ensuring that all Internet traffic is treated equally – meaning that data from Amazon.com and data from a teenager’s blog move along the pipeline at the same speed – is a worthy and complicated goal. Industry leaders and policymakers need to come together and identify solutions that will guarantee fair treatment of all Internet traffic. However, these solutions must also provide ISPs with enough flexibility to efficiently manage their networks and services.

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Maintaining the Open Web
From commenting on articles and sharing videos to crowd-sourcing and user-generated content, the Internet’s interactivity and communal power is what makes it such a vibrant and useful medium. While social networks and mobile apps offer rich, interactive and customized experiences, many of their features are often sheltered from the rest of the Web. If the Internet as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts, we must do a better job of maintaining interconnectivity.

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Strengthening Internet Security
Until recently, there has been little examination of the consequences of storing large amounts of proprietary information online. The recent spate of high-level incidents – from WikiLeaks to China’s hacking of the Internet – has made the perils of weak online security a tangible issue. Everyone, from governments and businesses to universities and individuals, must re-evaluate how they share, store, and publish sensitive information on the Internet – take steps to ensure it is protected.

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Read the official press release here.