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Technology 4 January 2021

The Week in Internet News: U.S. Stimulus Bill Pumps Up Broadband

Grant Gross
By Grant GrossTechnology Reporter

Broadband to the people: A new COVID-19 stimulus bill passed by the U.S. Congress includes $7 billion to help residents connect to broadband and pay their monthly bills, the Washington Post reports. The legislation is one of the largest one-time investments in broadband ever in U.S. history. “Nearly half the money is slated to fund a new monthly benefit for low-income families, aiming to ensure that those who have lost their jobs can stay online at a time when the pandemic has forced millions of people to work, learn and communicate on their devices from home.”

RIP Flash: Adobe has finally killed off the controversial Flash video and animation tool that was a formative technology for the Internet, the Independent says. While Flash was widely used on websites for many years, critics complained about security problems and a poor user experience. In 2009, 99 percent of all PCs with an Internet connection had Flash installed, Adobe has said.

Alexa, what taxes do I owe? The Indian government is working on Alexa-like chatbots to deliver public services, India Today reports. The government has invited bids for a voice assistant similar to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. Using artificial intelligence, the chatbots are expected to give personalized services to users.

Brexit turns back the clock: The U.K.’s final document that severs ties with the European Union includes recommendations for technology from more than 20 years ago, including the Netscape Communicator email package and outdated and insecure encryption, TechDirt notes. The recommendations appear to have been copied and pasted from a 2008 law, although the technologies were outdated even then.

Payments by selfie: An Israeli company is selling a new way to use facial recognition to pay for products and services, the Jerusalem Post says. Preciate’s Pay by Face kiosk system is being used by several restaurants in Holon, Israel, and it is expected to roll out to several well-known Israeli chains in the coming weeks.

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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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