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The Week in Internet News: Balloon-Based Internet Comes to Kenya

Up, up and away: Google’s Project Loon, focused on providing Internet access with balloons floating in the stratosphere, has begun providing service in Kenya, CNN reports. The project will use about 35 balloons floating 20 kilometers above the ground to provide 4G LTE service covering 50,000 square kilometers in central and western Kenya.

Reach the sky: A broadband cooperative in rural Pennsylvania has built its own wireless network to provider faster Internet service, The Philadelphia Inquirer says. The Rural Broadband Cooperative, made up mostly of retirees, uses a 120-foot, former HAM radio tower that they erected on Stone Mountain. The service, with about 40 paying customers, offers speeds of up to 25 megabits per second.

The great divide: The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the seriousness of the digital divide in Pakistan, The Diplomat says. While the country has moved to online school, many areas lack broadband service, and in some areas, mobile services are shut down by the government because of security concerns. “Students across the country, from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas to Balochistan, have been protesting against online classes, not only on social media but in front of various press clubs, universities, and on roads. They have observed token hunger strikes, rallies, and demonstrations. But the government has not paid much heed to their demands.”

TikTok no more: Video-based social media company TikTok has halted service to Hong Kong after China passed a sweeping security law targeting the city, the BBC reports. TikTok parent company ByteDance, based in Beijing, says it will refuse to share TikTok user data with Chinese authorities.

Drones to the rescue: Drones are being used to deliver COVID-19 tests to remote islands off the west coast of Scotland, The Independent writes. Drones can cut delivery times between Oban and the Isle of Mull to around 15 minutes, as opposed to a 45-minute ferry crossing.

Defeating encryption: Cybersecurity experts are trashing new legislation in the U.S. Senate that would require tech companies to give police access to encrypted communications and devices if ordered to do so by a court, CPO Magazine reports. “Once again, some Washington policymakers are proposing uninformed technology policy with potentially catastrophic consequences,” said Amit Yoran, CEO of Tenable. “In one of the worst tech policy concepts of recent years, this proposal would strike a critical blow to privacy, cybersecurity and the competitiveness of U.S. technology companies …”

The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act threatens the security of millions. Read the Internet Society’s open letter.