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Technology 3 February 2020

The Week in Internet News: Broadband Finally Comes to Rural Areas in U.S.

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Broadband expansions: There were several news articles this week about broadband deployments, including places in the U.S. that still were lacking access. Masslive.com reports that Princeton, Massachusetts, with a population of more than 3,400, finally has gotten high-speed Internet access. More than 35 towns in the state still lack access. In Princeton, the local pizza place had been popular because it had WiFi service not available in other parts of the town.

New fiber build: Meanwhile, Facebook and non-profit MCNC are planning to deploy a fiber broadband network in five Western North Carolina counties, USNews.com reports. The fiber network will connect, among other sites, schools in four districts, the North Carolina School for the Deaf, five health care sites, four community colleges, and four public safety locations.

Alexa, give me broadband: Nasdaq.com has an article on Amazon’s plans to become an Internet service provider using a satellite system made up of 3,236 satellites. Amazon is asking the U.S. Federal Communications Commission for permission, but some cable companies are opposed, as are SpaceX and OneWeb, which both have their own plans for satellite broadband service.

No faces on Facebook: Even as Facebook plans broadband expansions, it has settled a class-action lawsuit alleging its photo tagging feature violated an Illinois biometric privacy law, the New York Times reports. Facebook has agreed to pay $550 million to settle the lawsuit.

It could happen here: FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has warned that Internet shutdowns, happening recently in India and other countries, could also happen in the United States, Multichannel.com says. The 1934 Communications Act allows the U.S. president to shut down or take control of any facility for wire communications if he says “there exists a state or threat of war,” she noted. The president could shut down wireless communications “merely if there is a presidential proclamation of a ‘state of public peril’ or simply a ‘disaster or other national emergency.’”

Encryption-breaking lab: The New York City Police Department has built a $10 million lab to break encryption on smartphones, the New York Post says. The lab reportedly contains a supercomputer that can generate 26 million random passcodes per second, a robot that can extract a memory chip from a phone without using heat, and tools that can repair severely damaged devices.

Keep the Internet on, and strong. Read the Internet Society Position on Internet Shutdowns.

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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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