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Technology 17 May 2021

The Week in Internet News: U.S. Rolls Out Broadband Subsidy

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Help is on the way: The U.S. government is offering a $50-a-month broadband subsidy for people who took a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, CNet reports. The subsidies are part of a COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in December. More than 825 broadband providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, are participating.

Online soldiers: An army of fake bots is pushing the official line from the Chinese Communist Party on social media, reports the Associated Press on the Star Tribune website. “China’s rise on Twitter has been powered by an army of fake accounts that have retweeted Chinese diplomats and state media tens of thousands of times, covertly amplifying propaganda that can reach hundreds of millions of people – often without disclosing the fact that the content is government-sponsored.”

Cashing out: The Colonial Pipeline, one of the largest petroleum pipelines in the U.S., has paid a ransom of nearly $5 million in cryptocurrency to Eastern European hackers that shut down the pipeline with malware early this month, Bloomberg reports. The pipeline shutdown caused gasoline shortages in several states in the southeastern U.S.

Ready, set, launch: Elon Musk’s SpaceX has applied to offer its Starlink satellite broadband service in Nigeria, Vanguard News says. The company is in talks with the Nigerian Communications Commission to operate there. SpaceX sees Nigeria as “a critical market in Africa,” the story says.

Hey, you: Messaging service WhatsApp will begin to send “persistent” reminders to users who have not accepted its new terms and conditions as of May 15, the BBC reports. Some users have raised concerns about WhatsApp sharing their information with parent company Facebook, but users who do not accept the new terms will eventually start to lose some functionality. At some point, these users will no longer be able to receive video calls and messages.

Kicked out: The Chinese government has removed 90 apps from app stores for alleged “irregular collection of personal information,” the South China Morning Post writes. The apps include online ticket booking platform Damai, online travel booking app Tuniu, and China’s biggest LinkedIn rival, Maimai. Users who already had the apps installed can continue to use them, however.

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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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