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Technology 30 December 2019

The Week in Internet News: Worries of a Fragmenting Internet

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Fragments: Some activists are raising concerns about a fragmented Internet, with two University of Southampton professors writing about four competing versions of the Internet in Wired. The two professors wrote about the same issues for the World Economic Forum earlier this year. The vision of a coordinated, global network “might change in 2020 as Internet governance will be at the centre of a number of ongoing debates coming to the fore,” they wrote. “What values should the technology support? How should it deal with free speech and association? What about privacy?”

Squirrels on wheels: Mont Belvieu, a city near Houston, Texas, has built its own broadband network after struggling with slow speeds from existing providers, the Dallas Morning News reports. “I believe squirrels run on a wheel for my Internet,” one resident half-joked on a city survey. About half of the city’s households have signed up for the service, offering speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second for $75 a month, since it launched in mid-2018.

Encryption warnings: Chloe Squires, the U.K. Home Office’s head of national security, has weighed in on a U.S. Senate debate on encryption, saying Facebook will undermine her government’s fight against terrorists and pedophiles if it adds more encryption to its services, the Daily Mail says. Most cybersecurity experts, however, say additional encryption helps protect users against hackers and criminals.

This isn’t what it seems: ToTok, a new messaging app billed as a secure way to chat with friends and family, even in countries that have blocked WhatsApp and Skype, is actually a spying tool for the government of the United Arab Emirates “to try to track every conversation, movement, relationship, appointment, sound and image of those who install it on their phones,” the New York Times reports. ToTok has been downloaded millions of times throughout the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Africa, and North America. It recently became one of the most downloaded social apps in the U.S.

Take these six actions to protect encryption and protect yourself.

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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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