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Technology 4 November 2019

The Week in Internet News: Russian Law Allows Country to Disconnect from Internet

By Grant GrossGuest AuthorTechnology Reporter

Walking away: A Russian law that allows the country to disconnect from the outside Internet in the case of a cyberwar has gone into effect, PC Mag reports. The law allows the government there to serve up its own approved version of the Internet to residents. Some critics say the law could make the entire Internet more open to attacks.

Gone missing: The Internet has lost its soul by pushing commercial interests ahead of the public good, argues Janet Abbate, a professor of science, technology, and society at Virginia Tech in a column at the Washington Post. “Expanding access to the Internet, combined with looser government regulations, ultimately produced a situation no one foresaw or intended,” she writes. “On today’s Internet, conspiracy theories run rampant, identities can be faked and our real-life elections are vulnerable to manipulation. A network designed for spreading truth became a profit-driven industry, a public sphere that threatens to undermine the public good.”

Into middle age: There were a lot of recent articles about an important Internet milestone in late October. Ars Technica notes that the original ARPANET had just four nodes when it launched in 1969. “The first letters transmitted, sent from UCLA to Stanford by UCLA student programmer Charley Kline, were “l” and “o.” On the second attempt, the full message text, login, went through from the Sigma 7 to the 940. So, the first three characters ever transmitted over the precursor to the Internet were L, O, and L.”

Expanding encryption: Facebook is testing the possibility of encryption audio and video calls through its Messenger service, Engadget reports. The encryption would be available through Facebook’s opt-in Secret Conversations feature.

Where to get censored: has released its list of the 30 countries where the Internet is most censored. Turkmenistan, North Korea, China, Eritrea, and Iran round out the top five. Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Russia also make the list.

IoT for your toilet: A startup company is showing off a prototype of a $139 smart toilet cleaning device that comes embedded with a voice assistant, Vice says. Umm, ok. Its sensors also detect leaks in your toilet. The company has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding. Go figure.

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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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