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Headline USA New York

Massive East Coast Internet Outage Disrupts Remote Work and Online Classes | The State

Verizon acknowledged the service disruption.

Photo:
RYAN MCBRIDE / AFP / Getty Images

Many people from the East coast of the United States were without internet during part of Tuesday due to Verizon Fios service problems.

Tens of thousands of people reported outages in Boston, New York, Washington and other nearby locationsaccording to Downdetector.com, a website that tracks complaints about service interruptions. Those affected also indicated that there had been interruptions in services such as Gmail, Zoom or Slack.

Verizon acknowledged the disruption to its service, although it did not say whether problems with Fios were the main cause of unreliable customer access to various Internet services. Google (GOOGL), Slack and Zoom did not say if they had any problems.

“We are aware of an issue affecting the quality of Fios service throughout the Northeast corridor,” said Rich Young, a Verizon spokesman. “Our network team is fully committed. We are working on the origin and already we’ve seen service levels begin to reestablishHe added.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said it is investigating the outages.

“We have seen reports of internet related outages on the East Coast, which makes it difficult for people to work remotely and go to school online“FCC Acting President Jessica Rosenworcel said in a tweet.

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Technology US

Verizon says Fios internet should be returning to normal in the Northeast after disruptive outage

Verizon says that it has resolved issues with Fios, its fiber optic network, that affected many locations in the Northeastern US for hours on Tuesday. The company says that things should be returning to normal, but a fiber cut in Brooklyn may mean that some might still be without service.

Users began reporting problems with Verizon on Downdetector shortly after 11AM ET, and the volume of reports peaked at more than 22,000 on Tuesday. Hotspots for problems on Downdetector’s outage map for Verizon included Boston, New York City, Washington, DC, and more. A few Verge staffers experienced outages as well, though one in Brooklyn still doesn’t have service.

“An internet issue impacting the quality of our Fios service throughout the Northeast has been resolved,” Verizon said via its support account on Twitter to many users on the platform. “Network performance and service levels are returning to normal.”

The account also said at 11:52AM ET that there was a fiber cut in Brooklyn, and as of 4:04PM ET on Tuesday, the company said the cut is still affecting customers in the area. However, technicians are working to fix things, Verizon said.

People also reported issues with Google, Zoom, Gmail, and more on Downdetector, but the reports appear to have come from the same places that were experiencing problems with Fios. Google and Zoom’s status pages aren’t showing any outages, so it’s possible problems with those services in the Northeastern US were tied to the Fios outage.

We’ve asked Verizon to comment, and the company says it’s looking into it now. Acting Federal Communications Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel also said that the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau is looking into the situation.

Update January 26th, 4:44PM ET: Added new information from Verizon about the issues being resolved.

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Delhi The Buzz

Haryana suspends internet, SMS services in 3 districts for 24 hours


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 26

Amid incidents in National Capital Delhi reported on Republic Day, Haryana Government has suspended internet services (2G/3G/4G/CDMA/GPRS), all SMS services (excluding banking and mobile recharge) and all dongle services, etc., provided on mobile networks except the voice calls in the territorial jurisdiction of districts of Sonepat, Palwal and Jhajjar for 24 hours till 5 pm on January 27, 2021.

This order is issued to prevent any disturbance of peace and public order in the jurisdiction of these three districts of Haryana and shall be in force with immediate effect.

Read also: MHA orders additional forces in Delhi as farmers lay siege to the Red Fort, break Tikri Border barricades

Sharing details in this regard, an official spokesperson said the suspension has been ordered under Rule 2 of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017. All telecom service providers of Haryana, including the Head of BSNL (Haryana jurisdiction), are hereby directed to ensure the compliance of this order.

The spokesman said in view of the potential law and order situation created on account of tractor parade held on the occasion of Republic Day, there have been incidents of gherao in some locations in New Delhi and there may also possibly be a similar situation in Haryana.

Therefore the State Government has decided to suspend internet services in order to stop the spread of disinformation and rumours through various social media platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook Twitter, etc on mobile phones and SMS, for facilitation and mobilisation of mobs of agitators and demonstrators who can cause serious loss of life and damage to public and private properties by indulging in arson or vandalism and other types of violent activities.





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Tech News

High-Speed Internet Ban in Jammu and Kashmir Extended Till February 6


The Jammu and Kashmir administration has extended the ban on high-speed mobile data services across the Union Territory, except Ganderbal and Udhampur, till February 6.

High-speed mobile data services will continue in the districts of Ganderbal and Udhampur, while in other districts, the internet speed will be restricted to 2G only, read an order dated January 22, by the Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Home Department said that restrictions have been placed “in view of well founded apprehensions about the dissemination of inflammatory and seditious propaganda material”. Adequate access to the internet through broadband services over landline has been allowed, it said.

The administration highlighted that the reports of the law enforcement agencies indicate that these restrictions have helped thwart the “nefarious designs of the radical and terrorist organisations operating in Jammu and Kashmir to misguide, provoke and incite the youth in furthering their anti-India agenda since regulation of high speed mobile internet prevents easy streaming/dissemination/downloading of such material/videos”.

Asserting that threat perception on the security front in the Union Territory continues to be high, the Home Department said that there are “credible intelligence inputs about the preparedness of terrorists to infiltrate from across the international border/Line of Control, is also borne out from recent infiltration attempts, umpteen number of ceasefire violations and seizure of arms/ammunition”.

Reports further suggest the data services that rely on availability of high speed internet are extensively utilized for coordinating and facilitating infiltration, it said.

Mobile internet services were suspended in Jammu in August last year, in view of security concerns in the wake of the abrogation of Article 370 that granted special status to the erstwhile State.

Six months later in January 2020, the low-speed or 2G internet service on mobile phones was restored. On January 9, the ban on high speed mobile internet was extended till January 22.On August 16, 2020, high-speed mobile data services were restored on a trial basis in Ganderbal and Udhampur for post-paid sim card cardholders.


Does WhatsApp’s new privacy policy spell the end for your privacy? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

 



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Technology US

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, its internet balloon company

Alphabet is shutting down Loon, its division that provides internet from floating balloons, according to a post on the blog of Alphabet’s X moonshot division.

“The road to commercial viability has proven much longer and riskier than hoped,” Astro Teller, who leads X, wrote in the blog. “In the coming months, we’ll begin winding down operations and it will no longer be an Other Bet within Alphabet.”

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, launched Loon in June 2013. It launched its first commercial internet service in Kenya in July, comprised of a fleet of about 35 balloons that covered an area of around 50,000 square kilometers. Loon has also provided internet services to areas affected by natural disasters, deploying balloons to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria in 2017 and to Peru following an earthquake in 2019.

Teller says that Loon is working to place employees in other roles at X, Google, and Alphabet. “A small group of the Loon team will stay to ensure Loon’s operations are wrapped up smoothly and safely — this includes winding down Loon’s pilot service in Kenya,” according to Teller. To support those in Kenya who might be affected by the loss of Loon’s service, Loon is pledging $10 million to support nonprofits and businesses in Kenya dedicated to “connectivity, Internet, entrepreneurship and education.”

Developing…

Categories
Headline USA New York

NYPL Tells Children’s Stories in 3 Languages ​​Over the Phone to Compensate for Internet Access Problems | The State

NYPL Headquarters, 5th Avenue and 42nd St

Photo:
Andrés Correa Guatarasma / Courtesy

As virtual programs have become the new educational normal as a result of the pandemic, some students whose families are struggling financially still have problems accessing the Internet, which could delay their performance in school.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is offering an alternative through a service called “StoryLine”, that allows you to listen for free stories by phone, in a traditional way, without the need for the Internet.

Anyone can access the stories read by expert librarians. Just have to dial 917-ASK-NYPL (917-275-6975) and choose option 6.

Every Monday there will be a new story available in three languages: English, Spanish and Mandarin. Library officials say the service not only encourages children to keep reading, it also helps them explore your imagination.

Additionally, although there is no set date for the reopening, the NYPL library network also continues to offer “take out” service at 50 of its 92 locations in the Bronx, Manhattan and Staten Island. Due to the financial impacts of COVID-19, the library has also removed all fines and due dates on returning materials. Pix11.

When classrooms closed in mid-March, School Chancellor Richard Carranza acknowledged that around 300 thousand poor students in the city did not have the necessary devices, such as computers, tablets or high-speed internet access, or not even a space to connect, since they live in shelters. NYC is home to the largest school population in the US.

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Technology US

Who decides what stays on the internet?

The past week has seen the US government thrown into crisis after an unprecedented attack on the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob — all part of a messy attempt to overturn the election, egged on by President Donald Trump himself. Yesterday, the House of Representatives introduced an article of impeachment against Trump for incitement of insurrection. This is a turning point for the American experiment.

Part of that turning point is the role of internet platform companies.

My guest today is Professor Daphne Keller, director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford’s Cyber Policy Center, and we’re talking about a big problem: how to moderate what happens on the internet.

In the aftermath of the attack on the Capitol, both Twitter and Facebook banned Trump, as did a host of smaller platforms. Other platforms like Stripe stopped processing donations to his website. Reddit banned the Donald Trump subreddit — the list goes on. And a smaller competitor to Twitter was effectively pushed off the internet, as Apple and Google removed it from their app stores, and Amazon kicked it off Amazon Web Services.

All of these actions were taken under dire circumstances — an attempted coup from a sitting president that left six people dead. But they are all part of a larger debate about content moderation across the internet that’s been heating up for over a year now, a debate that is extremely complicated and much more sophisticated than any of the people yelling about free speech and the First Amendment really give credit to.

Professor Keller has been on many sides of the content moderation system: before coming to Stanford, she was an associate general counsel at Google, where she was responsible for takedown requests relating to search results. She’s also published work on the messy interaction between the law and the terms of service agreements when it comes to free expression online. I really wanted her help understanding the frameworks content moderation decisions get made in, what limits these companies, and what other models we might use.

Two notes: you’ll hear Professor Keller talk about “CDA 230” a lot — that’s a reference to Section 230, the law that says platforms aren’t liable for what their users publish. And pay attention to how quickly the conversation turns to competition — the size and scale of the big platform companies are key parts of the moderation debate in ways that surprised even me. Okay, Daphne Keller, director of the Program on Platform Regulation at Stanford.

Here we go.

Below is a lightly edited excerpt from our conversation.

2020 was a big inflection point in the conversation about content moderation. There was an endless amount of debate about Section 230, which is the law that says platforms aren’t liable for what their users post. Trump insisted that it be repealed, which is a bad idea for a variety of reasons. Interestingly to me, Joe Biden’s platform position is also that 230 be repealed, which is unique among Democrats.

That conversation really heated up over the last week: Trump incited a riot at the Capitol and got himself banned from Twitter and Facebook, among other platforms. For example, Stripe, a platform we don’t think about in the context of Twitter or Facebook, stopped processing payments from the Trump campaign website.

Following that, a competitor to Twitter called Parler, which had very lax content moderation rules, became the center of attention. It got itself removed from both the Apple and Google app stores, and Amazon Web Services pulled the plug on its web hosting — effectively, the service was shut down by large tech companies that control distribution points. That’s a lot of different points in the tech stack. One of the things that I’m curious about is, it feels like we had a year of 230 debate, and now, a bunch of other people are showing up and saying, “What should content moderation be?” But there is actually a pretty sophisticated existing framework and debate in industry and in academia. Can you help me understand what the existing frameworks in the debate look like?

I actually think there’s a big gap between the debate in DC, the debate globally, and the debate among experts in academia. DC has been a circus, with lawmakers just making things up and throwing spaghetti at the wall. There were over 20 legislative proposals to change CDA 230 last year, and a lot of them were just theater. By contrast, globally, and especially in Europe, there’s work on a huge legislative package, the Digital Services Act. There’s a lot of attention where I think it should be placed on just the logistics of content moderation. How do you moderate that much speech at once? How do you define rules that even can be imposed on that much speech at once?

The proposals in Europe include things like getting courts involved in deciding what speech is illegal, instead of putting that in the hands of private companies. Having processes so that when users have their speech taken down, they get notified, and they have an opportunity to respond and say if they think they’ve been falsely accused. And then, if what we’re talking about is the platforms’ own power to take things down, the European proposal and some of the US proposals, also involve things like making sure platforms are really as clear as they can be about what their rules are, telling users how the rules have been enforced, and letting users appeal those discretionary takedown decisions. And just trying to make it so that users understand what they’re getting, and ideally so that there is also enough competition that they can migrate somewhere else if they don’t like the rules that are being imposed.

The question about competition to me feels like it’s at the heart of a lot of the controversy, without ever being at the forefront. Over the weekend, Apple, Google, AWS, Okta, and Twilio all decided they weren’t going to work with Parler anymore because it didn’t have the necessary content moderation standards. I think Amazon made public a letter they’d sent to Parler saying, “We’ve identified 98 instances where you should have moderated this harder, and you’re out of our terms of service. We’re not going to let incitement of violence happen through AWS.” If all of those companies can effectively take Parler off the internet, how can you have a rival company to Twitter with a different content moderation standard? Because it feels like if you want to start a service that has more lax moderation, you will run into AWS saying, “Well, here’s the floor.”

This is why if you go deep enough in the internet’s technical stack, down from consumer-facing services like Facebook or Twitter, to really essential infrastructure, like your ISP, mobile carrier, or access providers, we have net neutrality rules — or we had net neutrality rules — saying those companies do have to be common carriers. They do have to provide their services to everyone. They can’t become discretionary censors or choose what ideas can flow on the internet.

Obviously, we have a big debate in this country about net neutrality, even at that very bottom layer. But the examples that you just listed show that we need to have the same conversation about anyone who might be seen as essential infrastructure. If Cloudflare, for example, is protecting a service from hacking, and when Cloudflare boots you off the service, you effectively can’t be on the internet anymore. We should talk about what the rules should be for Cloudflare. And in that case, their CEO, Matthew Prince, wrote a great op-ed, saying, “I shouldn’t have this power. We should be a democracy, and decide how this happens, and it shouldn’t be that random tech CEOs become the arbiters of what speech can flow on the internet.”

So we are talking about many different places in the stack, and I’ve always been a proponent of net neutrality at the ISP level, where it is very hard for most people to switch. There’s a lot of pricing games, and there’s not a lot of competition. It makes a lot of sense for neutrality to exist there. At the user-facing platform level, the very top of the stack, Twitter, I don’t know that I think Twitter neutrality makes any sense. Google is another great example. There’s an idea that search neutrality is a conceptual thing that you can introduce to Google. What is the spectrum of neutrality for a pipe? I’m not sure if search neutrality is even possible. It sounds great to say. I like saying it. Where do you think the gradations of that spectrum lie?

For a service like Twitter or Facebook, if they were neutral, if they allowed every single thing to be posted, or even every single legal thing the First Amendment allows, they would be cesspools. They would be free speech mosh pits. And like real-world mosh pits, there’s some white guys who would like, it and everybody else would flee. That’s a problem — both because they would become far less useful as sites for civil discourse, but also because the advertisers would go away, the platforms would stop making money, and the audience would leave. They would be effectively useless if they had to carry everything. I think most people, realistically, do want them to kick out the Nazis. They do want them to weed out bullying, porn, pro-anorexia content, and just the tide of garbage that would otherwise inundate the internet.

In the US, it’s conservatives who have been raising this question, but globally, people all across the political spectrum raise it. The question is: are the big platforms such de facto gatekeepers in controlling discourse and access to an audience that they ought to be subject to some other kind of rules? You hinted at it earlier. That’s kind of a competition question. There’s a nexus of competition and speech questions that we are not wrangling with well yet.

Categories
Canada

When internet lessons lead to abandonment

CEGEP students will resume their lessons on January 18, mostly remotely, a situation that has repercussions on students.

For Florence Nadeau, Mégan Desrosiers and Angie Ouellet, students in special education at Cégep de La Pocatière, returning to class is also synonymous with a change of program.

“I had nine classes during my session, so nine classes per week. Then, I took two out of nine courses, ”says Florence Nadeau.

“I run a lot of classes. I have a lot of virtual misery ”, testifies in turn Mégan Desrosiers.

Fortunately for them, thanks to a COVID-19 clause, some of their notes will never appear in their bulletin.

“It’s been a really tough time. At the end of the session, there were a lot of panic attacks, ”says Florence Nadeau.

“Me, I laugh a lot in life, I am full happy, but there, I was no longer happy at all, ”explains Angie Ouellet.

Distance school is not suitable for them since it is rather difficult to organize and concentrate.

“Basically, I’m TDA [trouble de déficit de l’attention], so I need to be present in order to be able to better intercept the information ”, indicates Mégan Desrosiers.

Égide Royer, psychologist

Screenshot, TVA News

Égide Royer, psychologist

A “less efficient” method

For Égide Royer, psychologist at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at Laval University, distance education is a method that leaves much to be desired.

“My professional opinion is that distance education … currently, and in general, is much less effective than face-to-face teaching,” he says.

Mr. Royer specifies that entering CEGEP is already not an easy step without a pandemic.

“All my cohort of young people who are leaving secondary 5, who entered college this year, who are weak, those who have an average of 70% and less, normally the possibility that they will succeed in their college courses.[aux] on schedule, it’s 13%, ”he notes.

In the fall, Mégan Desrosiers will begin another program; even if it was not his first choice, it remains in its field, and above all, it is of a shorter duration.

“Of course it’s a shame, but if it can take a weight off my shoulders, for me it’s better,” she believes.

The fall was also difficult for her mother, who sometimes lacked words to encourage her.

“We might be the first to let go, us here. We didn’t experience it like that, us, ”says Mélanie St-Laurent.

The three cégépiennes were in front of their televisions during the last government press briefings; they were hoping for a plan or indications for the next session. Finally, nothing was announced. They are now asking Quebec not to forget them.

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Technology US

Trump’s ban from Twitter creates the ultimate case of link rot in posts across the internet

When Twitter banned President Trump from its platform permanently on Friday, the thousands of tweets he put forth from his realDonaldTrump account over the past decade were wiped out. Retweets of realDonaldTrump tweets from other accounts now show a “this tweet is unavailable” message instead.

But embeds of Trump’s original tweets are now displaying in articles across the internet as shadows of their former selves, some with just the text of the former tweet included, others as empty gray boxes.

This effect, known as link rot, happens when images or content are deleted or otherwise broken, so links don’t point back to the original target, whether that’s a tweet, a video, or a web page. In most instances, a dead link is a visually unappealing annoyance, but link rot can pose problems when it comes to legal citations. A 2013 study by Harvard University found that nearly half of the hyperlinks cited in Supreme Court decisions were broken.

For context, here’s an embed of the tweet by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that started it all. If you click on it, it takes you to his page on Twitter.

Trump’s tweets aren’t completely gone from the internet; some of the president’s tweets must be preserved under the Presidential Records Act (which predates Twitter by 40-plus years), and there’s a sortable archive of his tweets built by an independent developer. And most internet users are familiar with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, a library of millions of snapshots of websites as they exist at a given moment in time, which can help when looking for old, updated, or deleted content. There’s also Politwoops, the site that preserves politicians’ deleted tweets for posterity, in case you really want to remind yourself about such highlights as the covfefe moment of 2017.

Twitter first introduced embeddable tweets in 2012, allowing users to display tweets within blog posts and articles as they appear on the site itself. Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube and Instagram also have allowed embeddable posts and content for some time. But as with anything on the internet, content links only live as long as the content itself. And as more and more platforms eject or otherwise restrict the outgoing president’s presence on the internet we’ll see more dead links where his content used to be.

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Technology US

FCC chairman Ajit Pai gave up on his legally dicey attempt to ‘clarify’ internet law

On October 15th, FCC chairman Ajit Pai promised that the FCC would “move forward with a rulemaking” to clarify the “meaning” of Section 230, the all-important internet law that protects free speech online.

Apparently, Pai never got around to that — and less than three months later, he no longer plans to, either, explaining he’s short on time. “[T]here’s simply not sufficient time to complete the administrative steps necessary in order to resolve the rule-making. Given that reality, I do not believe it’s appropriate to move forward,” he tells Protocol.

The reason he’s short on time is pretty simple: he’s stepping down on January 20th, when Joe Biden becomes President of the United States.

But he might also be giving up because the idea that the FCC had the power to do such a thing was laughable. As Recode explains in depth, the FCC’s justification was effectively that it has the power to make whatever rules it needs to make — which flies in the face of the logic Pai’s own FCC used to kill net neutrality. But that didn’t stop Pai from claiming the FCC did have the authority to do it, a political tactic that’s become so common in the Trump administration that my colleague Russell Brandom coined a phrase for it: “stunt legalism.”

Never mind that Section 230 isn’t actually that difficult to understand — though that admittedly didn’t keep 60 Minutes from falling on its face earlier this week. Here’s our explainer.