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Should you consider getting home internet service from your mobile phone company?

Cord-cutting is taking on a whole new meaning

You may use Verizon, AT&T, or T-Mobile for your mobile phone service, but would you consider using them to provide your home internet connection? 

An increasing number of consumers have taken that step and telecom companies are stepping up the competition. They're urging consumers to cut the cable cord and get their internet over the air.

With inflation a top-of-mind concern for millions of consumers, more people are considering wireless internet at home at a monthly cost...

Not sure how to choose?

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    Free news sites step up pleas for consumers to disable adblocking software

    One tech expert says consumers might want to ignore those requests

    If your web browser has recently updated, or you’ve loaded some new browser extensions, you may be seeing a message when you visit certain free content sites.

    “Please support journalism by allowing ads,” one of the pop-up messages reads. 

    In the message, there is a large link that will disable the adblocker extension in your browser. There is a smaller link that will allow you to proceed to the site while continuing to block ads.

    Dominic Chorafakis, with the cybersecurity consulting firm Akouto, says adblocking extensions aren’t exactly new, but it’s possible browsers have strengthened them in recent updates.

    “Sites that rely on ad revenue, of course, don’t like this at all, and there is quite a bit of effort being put in from their side to detect when a visitor has adblocking in place and either ask them politely to disable adblocking or outright prevent them from viewing their content unless they disable it,” Chorafakis told ConsumerAffairs.

    Not all ads are harmless

    Should consumers oblige and disable their adblocker? It’s one thing to support certain websites, but it is quite another to open devices to ads that might be more than simply annoying.

    “Malicious ads are a very real thing, and the companies that are making massive profits from internet ads are not doing enough to stop hackers from posting them,” Chorafakis said. “As a result, many legitimate sites end up serving malicious ads to unsuspecting visitors.”

    Chorafakis said he makes it a point to keep adblocking enabled on his devices until he sees publishers do more to control the kinds of ads they display.

    “I would rather not see a site’s content than take the risk of being served up a malicious ad if that’s how they want to behave,” he said. “If there is something that I absolutely must see but am being prevented by blocker detection, then I will temporarily use a different browser without adblocking that I have specifically for those very rare instances.”

    Two business models

    The issue highlights a growing dichotomy of the internet. There are companies that earn their revenue from services and subscriptions and those that earn money by showing ads and collecting data. 

    Many news sites have erected a paywall that prevents consumers from reading their content unless they subscribe. Most TV stations and TV networks continue to allow viewing for free but show ads to produce revenue.

    This split in the internet burst into the open last week when Apple changed its privacy policy and Facebook angrily responded with full-page ads in newspapers denouncing the move.  

    Apple’s newly announced  iOS14 privacy changes will require app developers like Facebook to “provide information about some of your app’s data collection practices on your product page.” The change will also require Facebook to “ask users for their permission to track them across apps and websites owned by other companies.”

    In the ad, Facebook maintained that Apple’s changes will be “devastating to small businesses” that rely on its ad network to leverage clicks and sales. 

    It also highlights the internet’s divide between consumers who value privacy and are willing and able to pay for the content they view and consumers who are willing to accept some limits on privacy in exchange for free content.

    If your web browser has recently updated, or you’ve loaded some new browser extensions, you may be seeing a message when you visit certain free content sit...
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    FCC announces $9 billion 5G federal subsidy plan

    The plan is part of the agency’s effort to shrink the digital divide

    On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it plans to scrap its previous plan for a $4.5 billion program to provide federal support for 4G LTE support in underserved areas. Instead, the agency says it will launch a $9 billion fund to bring 5G to rural areas of the U.S. 

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the new fund will help carriers pay for 5G deployments in areas with “unique wireless connectivity needs,” such as farms, ranches, and other areas that tend to face difficulties in obtaining access to wireless services or the internet.

    “5G has the potential to bring many benefits to American consumers and businesses, including wireless networks that are more responsive, more secure, and up to 100 times faster than today’s 4G LTE networks,” Pai said in a statement. “We want to make sure that rural Americans enjoy these benefits, just as residents of large urban areas will.” 

    “We must ensure that 5G narrows rather than widens the digital divide and that rural Americans receive the benefits that come from wireless innovation,” Pai said. 

    The proposal also involves allocating at least $1 billion to help bolster efforts to deploy precision agriculture tools that require 5G connectivity. 

    The FCC said it plans to formally propose the new 5G fund early next year. The funding will come from its Universal Service Fund, which uses money from surcharges on telephone service and provides subsidies to schools and libraries.

    On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it plans to scrap its previous plan for a $4.5 billion program to provide federal...
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    Internet creator outlines plan to protect the web

    Tim Berners-Lee's new ‘contract for the web’ contains commitments that would help prevent web misuse

    Inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, has unveiled a plan to prevent the web from continuing on its path to becoming what he calls a “digital dystopia.” 

    Acting on concerns that the web has become a breeding ground for misinformation, privacy violations, and political manipulation, Berners-Lee formed a non-profit campaign group called the World Wide Web Foundation. 

    The World Wide Web Foundation, through which Berners-Lee has released a global action plan called the “contract for the web,” has already garnered the support of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and more than 150 organizations.

    Berners-Lee says the help of governments, companies, and citizens is needed now to keep the web from becoming a place of harmful content rather than a benefit to humanity. 

    “The power of the web to transform people’s lives, enrich society and reduce inequality is one of the defining opportunities of our time,” he said. “But if we don’t act now - and act together - to prevent the web being misused by those who want to exploit, divide and undermine, we are at risk of squandering that potential.” 

    Key elements of the contract

    The contract asks companies to respect consumers’ data privacy and urges governments to ensure that everyone is able to get online and access all of the internet, according to its website. Additional commitments to help protect the web include: 

    • Web users should have access to any data held on them.

    • Users should be able to object to data being held.

    • Users should be able to prevent their data being processes.

    • The Internet should be affordable.

    • Web services be accessible.

    “The web was designed to bring people together and make knowledge freely available. Everyone has a role to play to ensure the web serves the public good,” the website says.

    Berners-Lee is set to attend a four-day UN Internet Governance Forum in Berlin on Monday. Ahead of the event, he tweeted that failing to take immediate action in defending “the free and open web” puts the web at risk of becoming a “digital dystopia of entrenched inequality and abuse of rights."

    Inventor of the web, Tim Berners-Lee, has unveiled a plan to prevent the web from continuing on its path to becoming what he calls a “digital dystopia.”...
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