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The Week in Internet News: Classroom in a Car

Searching for a signal: CNN has a story about a teacher in rural Virginia who drives 20 minutes to find a good WiFi signal in order to work. The middle school history teacher is one of about 18 million U.S. residents who lack access to high-speed broadband, according to the Federal Communications Commission. The teacher “lives in a valley between two mountains, where the only available home internet option is a satellite connection. Her emails can take 30 seconds to load, only to quit mid-message. She can’t even open files on Google Drive, let alone upload lesson modules or get on a Zoom call with colleagues.”

Demanding access: Meanwhile, in Oakland, California, hundreds of teachers and students are calling for free access to the Internet, demanding that the school district and mayor “take all necessary measures” to ensure that students have access, KTVU reports. “There is no equity in education for our most vulnerable students if all Oakland families do not have access to the internet,” said Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association, said.

Legislating access: In the U.S. Congress, Senate Democrats are introducing a bill that would create a new $4 billion fund for schools and libraries to buy WiFi hotspots, routers and Internet-connected devices, The Hill says. “The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated our existing ‘homework gap’ and spurred a growing ‘learning gap’ that will have a lasting impact on America’s children,” the senators said in a joint statement.

Beware pirates: As people shut in at home during the COVID-19 pandemic look for entertainment, Microsoft is warning that malware is being loaded into pirated films like “Contagion,” Dark Reading reports. The threat has affected thousands of people in Spain, Mexico, and South America. The malware observed injects a virtual currency-mining code into computers.

Fighting for freedom: A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers has introduced legislation designed to combat global censorship and boost Internet freedom, The Hill reports. The bill would require the existing nonprofit Open Technology Fund to research, develop, and maintain technologies meant to promote Internet freedom by skirting government censorship efforts and create tools to allow people around the world to access government-censored websites.

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