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About Internet Society 17 April 2020

Member News: Internet Society Chapters Focus on Connecting People During Pandemic

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Staying connected: Several Internet Society Chapters are focusing on ways to help people stay connected while living under stay-at-home orders or following social-distancing guidelines related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Netherlands Chapter has released a toolbox of open source tools to help people work from home.

Resources for the people: Meanwhile, the Dominican Republic Chapter has released a list of COVID-related resources for residents. The list includes information on virtual private networks, on teleworking, and on the country’s cybersecurity resources. The Chapter also released a set of recommendations for the government, for Internet service providers, and for other companies. For example, the Chapter recommends that ISPs offer flexible or low-cost service plans to customers during the pandemic.

Pandemic privacy: One of the many concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic is a loss of privacy as governments and private organizations track mobile phones as a way to monitor the spread of the virus and the effectiveness of social-distancing programs. The Canada Chapter notes that the pandemic has raised fears about the surveillance state. In Canada, the prime minister has ruled against cell phone surveillance for tracking the spread of the virus, but “if the virus rapidly spreads further, no doubt device tracking will be contemplated and possibly enacted in Canada,” the Chapter writes. “This involves a decision most governments are loath to take: trading privacy interests against public health.”

An issue of access: The Slovenia Chapter looks at bandwidth, congestion, and access issues as millions of people worldwide are now working from home. Internet traffic is up significantly in several countries, and while the Internet has held up, about 17 percent of the homes in the country don’t have Internet access, making distance learning nearly impossible, writes Professor Jerman Blažič.

Shutdowns in the time of COVID: The India Chennai Chapter recently hosted a discussion on the impact of Internet shutdowns during a pandemic. A transcript of the discussion is available. “In the current crisis, it appears important that we have to have better connectivity,” moderator Sivasubramanian Muthusamy said.

Life (and art) go on: There’s still room to create art, even during a pandemic, the Netherlands Chapter notes. Member Karina Palosi promotes the Social Distancing Festival, a worldwide online arts festival that includes music, dance, painting, and other arts mediums.

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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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