Governments are using the pandemic as an excuse to restrict internet freedom

The news: Global internet freedom has declined for the 10th year in a row as governments use the coronavirus pandemic as cover to restrict people’s rights, according to a report by think tank Freedom House. Its researchers assessed 65 countries, accounting for 87% of internet users worldwide. The report covers the period from June 2019 to May 2020, but some key changes took place when the pandemic struck.  

The pandemic effect: In at least 20 countries, the pandemic was cited as a reason to introduce sweeping new restrictions on speech and arrest online critics. In 28, governments blocked websites or forced outlets, users, or platforms to censor information in order to suppress critical reporting, unfavorable health statistics or other content related to the coronavirus. In at least 45 of the countries studied, people were arrested as a result of their online posts about covid-19.

Many countries are also conducting increasingly

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How A Pandemic Pushed Us To Embrace A Long Overdue Future Of Work

Founder & CEO of SlicedBrand, a global PR agency with an award winning team, she’s successfully led PR for thousands of technology companies

The pandemic has created a new thought process to reconcile when it comes to how we physically operate as a business. I immediately recognized that the fear of unleashing employees faded, if only out of necessity. Optimism grew, and ultimately everything new started to just seem normal. Now, it’s hard to even picture the days of our old office-bound lives.

Approximately six months into a forced remote office experiment, here are a few of the things I’ve learned.

My employees don’t need an office to be productive.

While I’ve been able to run a brand completely remotely, widespread adoption of a complete work-at-home workforce hasn’t been as rapid as industry leaders may have hoped.

The novel coronavirus kicked into overdrive the move to a fully

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Governments are using the pandemic to crack down on digital rights, report finds

The Freedom on the Net 2020 report, an assessment of 65 countries released Wednesday, found that the pandemic has accelerated a decline in free speech and privacy on the internet for the tenth consecutive year, and accused some governments of using the virus as a pretext to crack down on critical speech.

“The pandemic is accelerating society’s reliance on digital technologies at a time when the internet is becoming less and less free,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House, which is funded by the US government. “Without adequate safeguards for privacy and the rule of law, these technologies can be easily repurposed for political repression.”

Amid the pandemic, internet connectivity has become a lifeline to essential information and services — from education platforms, to health care portals, employment opportunities and social interactions. But state and nonstate actors are also exploiting the crisis to erode freedoms online.
Nowhere has
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Manhattan Emptied Out During the Pandemic. But Big Tech Is Moving In.

Facebook has just leased enough new office space in Manhattan to nearly triple its current local work force, including at one of the city’s most iconic buildings, the 107-year-old former main post office complex near Pennsylvania Station.

Apple, which set up its first office in New York a decade ago, is expanding to another building in Manhattan. And Google and Amazon are stitching together corporate campuses in the city more quickly than anywhere else in the world. Amazon paid roughly $1 billion in March for the iconic Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue.

Despite a pandemic that has ravaged New York, hollowed out many of its office buildings and raised fundamental questions about its future, the four companies collectively known as Big Tech are all significantly expanding their footprint in the city, giving it a badly needed vote of confidence.

With fears that the virus could spike again in

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Florida educators say pandemic “is not over and it’s not going anywhere in the near future”

CBS News is chronicling what has changed in the lives of residents of some of the biggest battleground states in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.

It’s been six weeks since Rocky Hannah, Leon County Schools superintendent in North Florida, reopened schools after abruptly closing in the spring due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The county allowed children to return to schools on August 31 in order to avoid potential financial penalties from Florida for not offering in-person options. Forty-four percent came back to in-person classrooms while 55% opted to start the school year remotely.  

“There were a lot of our parents that needed to get back to work, that needed their children in school, and by us giving families those options, I think we absolutely did the right thing,” said Hannah.  

When CBS News spoke with Hannah in July, the county had made an $11 million investment to purchase 32,500 laptops

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Mentorship During a Pandemic: Transitions from Lab and Sea to Virtual

The summer of 2020 was supposed to be one of exploration, discovery, and mentorship for students in the geosciences.

But then the pandemic happened.

Laboratories shuttered their doors; research vessels stayed docked.

Many of the mentorship programs students applied to are now navigating the still-uncharted waters of the “new normal” and working to provide quality, albeit remote, mentorship.

STEMSEAS—short for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Student Experiences Aboard Ships—is one such program.

Run out of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, the National Science Foundation–funded initiative has been a gateway for more than 125 students to experience ocean science up close every summer since 2016. In a normal year, STEMSEAS gives undergraduates the opportunity to spend 6–10 days aboard a U.S. Academic Research Fleet research vessel with experienced faculty mentors as the ship makes transits between expeditions.

“Going to sea is really quite life changing the first time one

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Survey assesses consumer perceptions of different dining room setups implemented by restaurants amid COVID-19 pandemic — ScienceDaily

Restaurants around the world were forced to shut down their dining rooms at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic earlier this year to comply with stay-at-home orders. While many operations closed for good, others reopened at limited capacity several weeks later, sparking creative solutions to enforce social distancing guidelines, including utilizing mannequins. Others were more conservative and opted to place plastic or glass partitions between tables. But which socially-distanced dining room do consumers prefer?

A study published in the International Journal of Hospitality Managementrevealed that consumer perceptions of the dining room that utilized partitions were significantly greater than those that used mannequins. Scott Taylor, assistant professor at the University of Houston Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management, led the survey of more than 300 people comparing the two servicescapes on the qualities of aesthetics, comfort, safety and cleanliness.

“Results of the current study suggest that consumers

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What’s the best way to get out the vote in a pandemic?

<span class="caption">Virtual neighborhood meetings, like this Democratic effort in Reedsburg, Wis., are among the latest efforts to get people to vote.</span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://newsroom.ap.org/detail/Election2020GroundGame/1ea10d7a31db4be3a7353a3d5df3beb7/photo" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:AP Photo/Tom Beaumont">AP Photo/Tom Beaumont</a></span>
Virtual neighborhood meetings, like this Democratic effort in Reedsburg, Wis., are among the latest efforts to get people to vote. AP Photo/Tom Beaumont

Identifying supporters and getting them to the polls are key parts of any political campaign. The pandemic, however, creates new challenges for candidates trying to convey their messages and mobilize voters.

Decades of political science research have made clear that mobilizing in person, either on the doorstep or on the phone, is the most effective way of moving voters to the polls. A well-run door-to-door campaign can be expected to increase turnout by 7 to 9 percentage points; an effective phone campaign can be expected to lead to a 3% to 5% increase in voter turnout.

However, even before the pandemic, it was getting harder and harder to reach voters in person or on the phone. When I began studying voter mobilization in 2005, it was common

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The Pandemic Has Benefited One Group Of People: Billionaires

Other than Netflix, Andrew Cuomo and the virus itself, no one has benefited from the COVID-19 pandemic more than American billionaires.

Over the last six months, roughly 3 out of 4 members of America’s 10-digit-wealth club have seen a rise in their net worths. Sixteen American billionaires are worth at least twice as much now as they were in March. And Jeff Bezos, who was already worth $113 billion at the start of 2020, is heading into the year’s final stretch $73 billion richer.

Michael Bloomberg and Charles Koch are both up by $7 billion, and Mark Zuckerberg has added another $46 billion to his already staggering $54 billion in wealth. Elon Musk found time between COVID truther tweets and CPAP machine donations to take his fortune from $25 billion to $92 billion.

Some billionaires have gotten richer as a direct result of the pandemic. Amazon, for example, was one

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HP’s CEO on how the pandemic is accelerating change in technology and business

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Enrique Lores wearing a suit and tie: HP Ceo Enrique Lores on Leadership Next


© David Pollar—Getty Images
HP Ceo Enrique Lores on Leadership Next

“We are witnessing the dawn of a new age,” HP CEO Enrique Lores said at the company’s Reinvent conference this year. Many of the changes that business leaders planned to transition into over the next few years are here now, and they’re being accepted seamlessly due to the pandemic from constant video conferencing to working from home. 

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On the latest episode of “Leadership Next,” the Fortune podcast about the changing roles of business leadership, Lores tells cohosts Alan Murray and Ellen McGirt that the fast pace of change has affected not only business and technology, but also the personal lives of employees and managers alike. That, he says, necessitates the development of a more approachable

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