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Technology 13 April 2020

The Week in Internet News: Pandemic Puts Spotlight on Access Problems

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

No working from home: Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic is tougher in some places than in others. Business Insider finds 17 U.S. cities where Internet access is lower than in much of the rest of the country. Many of the cities listed are across the South and in New Mexico.

Students need access: Alabama’s state schools superintendent is worried about a lack of access for some students while schools are shut down during the pandemic, AL.com reports. There are several “gaps” in access for students, but some school districts are using buses to deliver WiFi.

100,000 laptops: Meanwhile, in Arizona, more than 100,000 students need laptops in order to do school work from home, AZcentral.com reports. The Greater Phoenix Chamber Foundation has been running a laptop drive to reduce that number. Access is also a problem in some rural areas, with some areas having only 25 percent of households with Internet access.

Fundraising for access: In Maine, the Bangor School Department has turned to fundraising to provide 350 families with Internet access so students can participate in distance learning, the Bangor Daily News reports. The school department raised about $28,000 in a week on the way to a $60,000 goal.

Leaving town: Signal, an encrypted messaging app, has threatened to leave the U.S. if a controversial bill that would remove legal protections from websites for user-posted content passes Congress, Gizmodo reports. The EARN IT Act, introduced recently in the Senate, is focused on fighting online child pornography, but critics worry that it will lead to rules creating backdoors in encryption in the name of fighting child exploitation.

Targeting virtual meetings: Cybercriminals are now using malware and adware to target online meeting apps such as Skype, TechRepublic says. These criminals are embedding malware in downloadable files with names similar to popular online meeting apps. Security vendor Kaspersky found 200 threats in these apps, including a lot of adware.

Access to the Internet has never been more important. Learn about the work of communities around the world to keep the Internet open and globally connected.

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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