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Technology 6 April 2020

The Week in Internet News: Stay-at-Home Orders Highlight Need for Internet Access

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

More important than ever: With most people in the U.S. and many other countries ordered to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a lack of Internet access in rural and poor areas is making people feel more disconnected than ever, according to an Associated Press story at Stella Ashcraft “lives from check to check and can’t afford internet. Her senior-citizen center, where she plays bingo, does puzzles and gets lunch five days a week, is closed. So is her church and the library where she checks email. ‘I feel very withdrawn, isolated, alone,’ she said.

Spotlight on Zoom’s privacy: With many people working from home, web-conferencing app Zoom has become a crucial service for many. However, with the increased use of Zoom is also coming increasing scrutiny. While the company has marketed its service as offering end-to-end encryption, that’s not really the case, The Intercept reports. Zoom Video Communications, the company behind Zoom, has been hit with a class-action lawsuit for allegedly sharing user data with Facebook, CBS News adds. Finally, Zoom has pledged to focus on privacy and security issues, TechXplore reports.

Homework hotspots: As most students in the U.S. and other countries are trying to manage remote learning, many schools are coming up with innovative ways to help students with poor Internet service or no service at all. In Colquitt County, Georgia, the school district is helping students find “hotspots for homework,” open WiFi networks that allow them to connect to the Internet, reports.

No news here: An Internet shutdown in a region of Pakistan is keeping residents there from learning about the coronavirus, reports. Internet service in the former Federally Administered Tribal Area has been suspended since June 2016. “In mid-March, a journalist from the Khyber region … told me that most of the people in tribal regions have not heard of the term coronavirus, let alone know what it is about.”

A new type of PC virus: A new type of PC malware malware “borrows the coronavirus name, and the filename COVID-19.exe, to scare victims, to amuse its creators and possibly to get publicity,” Tom’s Guide says. The digital coronavirus can infect a PC through a download, an email attachment, or a fake application update. “If you get hit by it, your Windows PC will go through a few steps and pop up an image of an actual coronavirus before it reboots into a gray screen displaying the words, ‘Your computer has been trashed.’”

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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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