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Technology 25 June 2018

The Week in Internet News: Governments Shut Down Internet for School Testing

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossGuest AuthorTechnology Reporter

Couldn’t you just take their phones away? The government of Algeria told telecom carriers to shut down Internet service for several hours a day during high school testing season, according to several news reports. The government is trying to prevent the repeat of a situation in 2016, when exam questions were leaked online, reports Al Jazeera. The government of Iraq has taken similar action, the news agency says. It’s unclear how a short shutdown each day will prevent leaks.

Why IoT security is terrible: The headline is certainly catchy, but the IEEE Spectrum suggests that the Internet of things has some special security challenges including nation state hackers that are targeting the systems (although that’s true of other IT systems as well). Another of the six reasons: Many IoT systems, like your connected refrigerator, don’t have dedicated IT security workers looking out for them.

Score one for encryption: Using the encrypted WhatsApp, Syrian school girls banned from attending school in Islamic State-controlled territory, are taking pictures of school work and sharing it with each other, notes NakedSecurity, referencing a report on the BBC. “Education is everything, and it’s our weapon,” one of the girls says.

Not so fast, WhatsApp: The secure messaging app doesn’t always get high praise, however. The Guardian notes that critics of WhatsApp have blamed it for aiding the spread of fake news in India, Brazil, Kenya and the U.K. The privacy controls on the app make it difficult to monitor what information users are sharing, critics say.

AI against toxic trolls: In recent years, there’s been a lot of talk about using artificial intelligence to treat disease, to fight crime, and even to play chess and the game Go. One company is using the technology to combat toxic behavior in online game communities, reports VentureBeat. Spirit AI uses AI and related technologies to understand the general vibe of an online community and predict problems ahead of time.

No more online discount? The U.S. Supreme court has weighed in on a long-running dispute that allows many online retailers to avoid collecting sales tax from customers who live in a different state. But the Supreme Court has not ruled that states can force those sales tax collections, CNN reports. While some online retailers have been collecting tax for years, it appears that others may soon be joining them.

Do you know the risks of your IoT devices? No matter who you are, it pays to #GetIoTSmart.

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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