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Technology 21 September 2020

The Week in Internet News: Trading Trash for WiFi

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Turning plastic into access: Students in a Jakarta, Indonesia, neighborhood are collecting discarded plastic and trading it for access at a WiFi station that sells the plastic waste, the World Economic Forum website says. The owner of the WiFi station uses the profits from selling the plastic to purchase access for small groups of students who need Internet access during continuing COVID-19 lockdowns.

No access here: About 54 percent of households in rural Bangladesh lack Internet access, according to a new survey featured at The Daily Star. Nearly six in 10 don’t have access to a smart phone. The survey also found that about eight in 10 rural households have very limited digital skills.

Trump vs. TikTok: U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to ban Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat as of 20 September, Reuters reported. The U.S. Department of Commerce was planning to issue an order on Friday that would prohibit app stores available in the U.S. from offering the two apps. TikTok owner ByteDance was still exploring a sale of the video-sharing app to U.S. companies.

Rockets on boats: SpaceX is planning to test its proposed Starlink satellite Internet network by using a fleet of boats, with some “droneships” used to recover its rocket boosters at sea, CNBC.com reports. Other boats would apparently test Starlink connectivity. SpaceX is planning to build a network with up to 12,000 satellites to provide Internet access, with 650 already deployed. It is currently conducting a private beta test of the service.

Hacking your teddy bear: A surge of connected Internet of Things devices, including teddy bears and coffee makers, is making homes more vulnerable to hackers, ZDNet says. In some cases, owners aren’t aware of the vulnerabilities, and in some cases, the connected devices are so cheap that makers feel like they can’t add basic security to them.

Hacking everything: The U.S. Department of Justice has charged five Chinese people with hacking more than 100 companies, plus nonprofits and universities, NPR reports. The DOJ also charged two Malaysian businessmen with conspiring with two of the indicted Chinese nationals to target companies in computer gaming industry. The defendants allegedly targeted 100 companies in the U.S., Australia, South Korea, and Brazil. They also allegedly breached Vietnamese and Indian government networks.

The U.S. Administration’s move to ban TikTok and WeChat for U.S. app stores is a direct attack on the Internet. Read the Internet Society’s statement on this extreme measure.

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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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