Virtual Private Networks are certainly gaining a lot of popularity among internet users, and the younger generation is surely not out of the equation. In fact, many times they’re actually the ones introducing their friends and family to this essential piece of software because of the blocks that some schools often enforce, usually to limit students access to social media. This isn’t exactly new, we’ve covered how schools and even some workplaces use software to block access to many different websites in order to prevent students and employees from getting distracted.
Having said that, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce you to a new situation that’s happening in Canada as we speak: the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) has decided to ban some social media and other entertainment sites from its in-school networks until June 30th 2017. However, despite the vast majority of these measures being adopted as a way to prevent distractions and keep everyone focused, in this case the motivations behind their decision to censor the internet were different.
“The Network Just Can't Handle It”
According to the TDSB, the Wi-Fi ban was enforced to protect and lessen the schools’ networks as they were unable to handle the amount of traffic they were receiving, making necessary operational tasks such as attendance, registration and report cards practically impossible to complete. This happens because the TDSB’s network is “old and slow” and more than 20% of the daily network activity came from services like Snapchat, Instagram, and Netflix, the three main websites that became blocked on the schools’ Wi-Fi. What this meant was that – since there were no other access points to those services – students can only access them using their individual data plans. However, many of them either have short plans – that a quick visit to Netflix would completely tear apart – or they don’t even have one at all. This means that in some cases the TDSB ended up killing two birds with one stone, as one student reported that he will “probably use data” but because of extra costs he’ll “be off the phone more” which “might be a good thing during class”.
But not all students are willing to give up on their access to their entertainment so they’ve taken the most logical step and turned to the always-useful VPNs. Actually, another student said it took everyone “only five minutes” to find and download a VPN and “keep snapping”. Hotspot Shield was one of the top trends on Twitter (which, curiously, was not blocked) the day the measure was put into effect.
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