Motorola patents a robocop autonomous car that brethalyzes, mirandizes you, calls your lawyer and collects your bail

In Patent 10049419, "Mobile law enforcement communication system and method," Motorola engineers describe "A communication system, comprising: a self-driving vehicle within which to detain a detainee by a law enforcement officer" that locks you up, administers a breathalyzer, reads you your rights, figures out who your counsel of record is, conferences you in with your lawyer, consults with a court on your bail, and lets you swipe your cards to bail out of the car. Read the rest

It's been a year since Equifax doxed America and nothing's changed

Last year Equifax sheepishly admitted that it had breached hundreds of millions of Americans', Britons' and Canadians' private financial data and then suppressed the news (subsequent months revealed that the company had suffered multiple breaches, so many it didn't know what it had lost and wasn't looking very hard). Read the rest

Developers are worth more to tech companies than cash

Researchers from Stripe surveyed "thousands of C-level executives and developers across five different countries" and found that companies finding hiring qualified developers harder than anything else -- even raising cash ("Access to developers is a bigger constraint than access to capital"). Read the rest

Tim "Net Neutrality" Wu on the case for breaking up Facebook

Competition scholar and cyberlawyer Tim Wu (previously) is best known for coining the term "Net Neutrality," but his work ranges over all sorts of issues related to technology, competition, monopoly and innovation; in his forthcoming book, The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age, he makes the case for breaking up the tech giants, starting with Facebook -- because the problem with Big Tech isn't "tech," it's "big." Read the rest

Santander Bank freezes transgender woman's account because she sounded 'like a man'

Contraltos banking with Santander are advised to avoid the faculty of speech: they might freeze your account. This is what happened to Sophia Reis, a 46-year old trans woman from Nottingham who was told she could not access her money because she sounded like a man.

Ms Reis, who began transitioning in 2016, said she informed the bank of a name change in November.

But last Thursday, despite providing all the correct security information over the telephone, her debit card and accounts were frozen until she visited a branch and provided ID.

"I felt embarrassed. I felt humiliated because yet again I have to explain myself," she said.

Worse, a bank staffer made clear that this is a policy that won't change:

"I want for the bank, as an institution, to have something in place where people like myself get protected and don't have to go through this every time."

Ms Reis said a member of staff had now placed a note on her account but said the problem could happen again.

This is an interesting remark because it exposes that the problem has happened before at Santander and that the staffer feels obliged to warn the customer that it will happen again. It doesn't matter what apologies are made or changes promised, because culture eats strategy for breakfast. The only solution is to take your money somewhere else.

Photo: Sophia Reis Read the rest

Bernie Sanders' new bill will force companies to reimburse governments for low-paid employees' welfare costs

Bernie Sanders has introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (STOP BEZOS) Act, which will force any corporation with more than 500 employees to reimburse the government for any workers whose wages are so low that they end up on food stamps, national school lunch/breakfast programs, Section 8 housing or Medicaid. Read the rest

Consortium of the largest science funders in Europe announce that they'll only fund open access research

Eleven of Europe's largest scientific research funders, responsible for €7.6B in annual grants, have announced "Plan S," whereby scientists will only be able to get research grants if they promise to first publish all their work in open access, no-cost journals. Read the rest

$1bn blood-testing scam Theranos dissolved

Photo: Shutterstock.

Theranos, the $1bn Silicon Valley fraud that made fools or corpses of everyone who trusted it, is finally to meet its doom. The Wall Street Journal reports that its dissolution was announced Tuesday in an email sent to the shareholders.

Despite a series of journalistic exposés covering both the company's sham technology and its cultlike corporate culture, lawsuits, and regulatory sanctions, founder Elizabeth Holmes somehow clung on until finally being charged with fraud a few weeks ago.

The move comes after federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and the blood-testing company’s former No. 2 executive, alleging that they defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and defrauded doctors and patients.

The executives have denied the charges and face a coming criminal trial.

The dissolution process was precipitated by the fact that Theranos breached a covenant governing a $65 million loan it received from Fortress Investment Group last year. Under the loan terms, Fortress was entitled to foreclose upon the company’s assets if its cash fell beneath a certain threshold.

Every new thing I read about this makes me ever more amazed by the scale and audacity of this scam. Holmes conned Betsy DeVos, Rupert Murdoch, and the Walmart heirs alone out of $350m by literally cosplaying Steve Jobs. How is this reality?

Read the rest

'IG Shopping'? Instagram is building a dedicated shopping app, per reports

There will be a new Instagram app sometime soon that's all about shopping, reports The Verge. Read the rest

How the EU will force all artists to use Youtube, forever

Robert Kyncl, Youtube's Chief Business Officer, writes about Article 13, the EU proposal to force all online services to evaluate all user-generated content with a copyright enforcement algorithm and censor anything that looks like a known copyrighted work (anyone can add anything to the databases of known copyrighted works and prevent it from being posted). Read the rest

Pressured by union, Disney World raises minimum wage to $15

All Disney resort workers will be paid at least $15 an hour by 2021, reports Charles Pulliam-Moore.

This is another win for workers, as just this past July unions representing almost 10,000 Disneyland employees won their own fight for a $15 minimum wage.

Disney’s revenue, generated in part by the labor of its parks and resorts workforce, increased by 6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 to $4.7 billion.

Read the rest

Fire breaks out at Tesla factory with 'history of frequent fires' reported

Tesla's Fremont, California factory is said to be running normally again, after a fire broke out Thursday around 5:20PM. No flamethrowers involved. Read the rest

"Bad health care has killed more American artists than I can list"

Austin Kleon, explaining why artists and people who love them should be single-issue voters and why that issue should be Medicare for All: "Bad health care has killed more American artists than I could list here without my fingers falling off." Read the rest

Britain is a money-launderer's paradise, Part LXII

Paul Manafort's money-laundering conviction makes a convenient peg to hang Buzzfeed's investigation into shell companies in the UK off of; and what their excellent reporting reveals is a playground for money-launderers who operate in the most brazen way, using a complex system of shell companies all over the world, but using the UK as the the lynchpin for their schemes. Read the rest

Data-driven analysis of the total, gratuitous inadequacy of women's pockets

Pudding's data-driven analysis of women's jeans pockets compares 32" waist jeans for men and women from a variety of brands and uses various common cellphones as a benchmark; the conclusion will not surprise you. Read the rest

The company you hired to snoop on your kids' phones uploaded all their data to an unprotected website

As you might imagine, Spyfone is a company that offers to spy on other peoples' phones for you: its major market is parents and bosses who infect and surveil the phones their kids/minions use, peeking on their texts, emails, Facebook messages, passwords, photos, browsing history, etc. Read the rest

Vulnerabilities in smart electric plugs give attackers a staging point for scanning and attacking your whole network

If an attacker takes control of a device inside your network -- by exploiting a defect in it or a mistake you made in configuring it or by tricking you somehow -- then they can do all kinds of bad things, like scanning your local network for other vulnerable devices, attacking them and taking control over them. Read the rest

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