40 Million People Might Lose Internet Access On January 1


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Source: Getty Images/Pablo Blazquez Dominguez)

Source: Getty Images/Pablo Blazquez Dominguez

If you have a cell phone that is more than five years old, you might want to pay attention.

On the morning of January 1, 2016, phones that are more than five years old will be unable to access the encrypted web. This includes sites such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter and could possibly effect up to 40 million people with smart devices.


While this might not be a big deal for city dwellers that dive head first into phone updates, some parts of the developing world may lose up to 7% of Internet users. Come the New Year these users will be cut off from the Internet.

According to a report from BuzzFeed, this is all happening because of an encrypted code.

“The problem is that the current version, called SHA-1, is no longer safe, according to researchers who announced this October that they would be able to break the technology by the end of the year. So the CA/Browser Forum, the industry group that sets encryption policy, announced that as of midnight Jan. 1, it will no longer issue SHA-1 certificates. Instead, it’ll be opting for the new, stronger SHA-2 certificates,” shared BuzzFeed.

Opting for the new code is becoming very controversial, mainly because most people cannot afford to update their devices. “It is important to remember that the Internet is not just guys with the newest laptops and an iPhone 6,” Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare shared with BuzzFeed.

Facebook chief security office, Alex Stamos agreed with Prince and shared his thoughts in a blog post last week.

“We don’t think it’s right to cut tens of millions of people off from the benefits of the encrypted Internet, particularly because of the continued usage of devices that are known to be incompatible with SHA-256…We should be investing in privacy and security solutions for these people, not making it harder for them to use the Internet safely.”

Hopefully a solution will emerge with just under two weeks to go until the New Year.


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