p>In recent pasts, we’ve discussed the growing issue of cyber crime and the ways that Internet crime can affect consumers. Although crime has existed as long as there have been people to commit it, the changing nature of the Internet itself has created a new world where doors to criminal activity are opened a little wider. Web 2.0 changed the way we use the Internet – and how the Internet uses us.
In the early days of the consumer-driven Internet (as opposed to its original purpose of information sharing among dedicated networks), the connection between providers and users was largely one-way: you searched for information or sent a request for a service via email. This original Internet, or Internet 1.0 if you will, was information driven rather than commerce driven.
As Internet use expanded, its potential continued to unfold, and new technology that simplified interactivity made the information highway a two-way street. Now dubbed Web 2.0, this new face of the Internet is driven by relationships, social media, real-time connections and viral campaigns. A vast network of bloggers, independent journalists and writers are not just reporting news, but creating it. Internet commerce has exploded, far outstripping traditional “brick and mortar” sales in many sectors as shoppers enjoy the experience of buying whatever they want, whenever they want it, without leaving home. Statistics for 2012 estimate revenue of around $225 billion USD from online sales.
Some Internet analysts have likened this new cyber-world to the Wild West of old, where few laws reigned and opportunities were ripe for the taking. And the
y may not be too far off the mark. The wide-open nature of the Internet makes it possible for anyone to be an expert, run a business, or post information that may or may not be accurate. With few institutional safeguards in place, it’s up to the buyer to beware.
Although high-profile cases of hackers and cyber crime rings have been prosecuted, the Internet itself remains largely unpoliced, unless implicated in clear criminal activity such as child pornography. And Web 2.0 has even given rise to its own unique kinds of crime and unsavory behavior, such as cyber bullying, cybersex, virtual adultery and information “phishing” with fake emails.
wide-open nature of Web 2.0 offers unprecedented freedoms. Information flows freely, and in some situations has changed the course of history, as bloggers in disaster areas and war zones provide uncensored first-person accounts. The old gatekeepers are gone, and censorship is the province of individual providers, such as news outlets and major bogs. In this world, buyers must beware on their own behalf.
The Internet drives an active global economy, putting consumers in touch with retailers half a world away, and creating unprecedented access to information. That very openness has a shadow side, though, and users following Jason Hartman’s’ advice to take charge of their financial life know that it’s up to them to stay in control in the wild world of Web 2.0.
The American Monetary Association Team