Surge-taxing Uber as a way relieve urban congestion

Every city where Uber and Lyft have found a foothold has also faced impossible congestion in the city center; Felix Salmon says this is because drivers are incentivized to come to the city-center despite the traffic (because that's where the fares are) and riders are incentivized to skip public transit when there are a lot of cars around to hail with their apps. Read the rest

London demonstrates the stupid, janky future of Smart Cities

Bruce Sterling's scathing editorial in The Atlantic on the future of "Smart Cities" uses London's many smart city initiatives as a kind of measuring stick for the janky and dysfunctional future of civic automation: a city that throws great smart city conferences while its actual infrastructure is a mess of "empty skyscrapers, creepy CCTV videocams, and sewers plugged with animal fat" that require decades of planning an attention to cope with -- significantly beyond the attention spans of any of the tech giants vying to be the smart city providers of the future. Read the rest

UK police to scan the fingerprints of anyone unable to present identification

There are about 4,200,000 surveillance cameras in United Kingdom. According to a feature in Wired UK, police want to take an even closer look.

The West Yorkshire Police Service is currently testing a mobile fingerprint scanning system that's connected to databases containing the fingerprints of 12 million immigrants and criminals. 250 mobile fingerprint scanners have been issued in the North Eastern region of England and will be used, as part of a pilot program, to help identify individuals who refuse to or are unable to tell the police who they are or are. The Yorkshire Police Service says that the system would most likely only ever be used on suspects at the scene of a crime, those who are found to have no identification papers or anyone found dead or unconscious. Read the rest

Vinegar Valentines: Villainous Victorian woodcuts that lament the irritations of engaging tradesmen

Spitalfields Life highlights a selection of the "Villainous Valentines," Victorian-era prints that illustrate the irritations of hiring different kinds of tradesmen, accompanied by appropriate doggerel. It's like a bougie mirror-world version of London Labour and the London Poor, with illustrations by way of John Tenniel. Read the rest

Motherboard files legal complaint against London police to force it to explain why an officer bought creepy, potential illegal stalkerware

Flexispy is the creepy stalkerware advertised to abusive spouses and exes that Motherboard's Joseph Cox has been relentlessly tracking; when he acquired a leaked trove of the company's files, he started to mine it to see who was buying the potentially illegal app. Read the rest

Tory Council Leader's son gets plum job with government contractor, teen constituent damned as an "appalling little child" for asking about it

Kevin J Davis is the leader of the Council for the London Borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames; his son Cameron Davis's Linkedin profile shows that he is now a Trainee Development Manager at CNM Estates, a major contractor to the Borough of Kensington. Read the rest

Berlin regulates Airbnb and safely deflates its housing bubble while returning 8,000 rentals to the market

Berlin is one of many European cities that have faced new housing crises -- or worsening existing ones -- attributed to Airbnb, where homes were converted to unlicensed, super-profitable hotel rooms, driving up housing prices, shrinking rental inventory, and making the city unaffordable for the people who lived and worked there. Read the rest

Appeals Court: Britain's Snoopers Charter is illegal mass surveillance and must be urgently reformed

Just over a year ago, the top court in Europe ruled that the Snoopers Charter, a mass surveillance regime created by the ruling Tory party, was unconstitutional. Read the rest

Property developer caught using critic's photo in promotional materials, demands an end to criticism as a condition of paying for the use

"The Gentle Author" is the maintainer of Spitalfields Life, a blog that has featured a brilliant and moving series of essays about the history of East London; Author is also sharply critical of the plans by giant property developer Crest Nicholson to redevelop the site of a Victorian chest hospital and dig up an ancient tree called the Bethnal Green Mulberry. Read the rest

Demolition of derelict robotic parking garages reveals entombed vehicles, trapped for 15 years

When the £5m Autosafe Skypark opened in Edinburgh, it was heralded as the UK's most technologically advanced car park, but in 2003, the owners went bankrupt and turned off the computers that controlled the lifts that raised and lowered cars into their bays. Read the rest

NHS okays hospitals and doctors storing patient data on public cloud servers

NHS Digital has issued guidance to the independent authorities and businesses that make up the UK's National Health Service, setting out the case for storing extremely sensitive patient data on public cloud servers. Read the rest

#BrexitStamps: The sarcastic commemorative Brexit stamps of Twitter

MP Andrea Leadsom wants the Royal Mail to commemorate Brexit with a postage stamp. Twitter has run with the idea, shooping and tagging with #BrexitStamps, making sure to tag @andrealeadsom. Read the rest

Julian Assange is now an Ecuadoran citizen, but the UK government still won't let him out of the embassy

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran embassy to the United Kingdom in London for more than 5 years, believing that if he were taken into custody by the UK police, he would face extradition to the USA where he would be tried for publishing details of war crimes committed by the US military. Read the rest

Scottish police confirm requests from world governments to find money laundered through "the UK's homegrown secrecy vehicle"

Scottish Limited Partnerships (previously) are notorious corporate entities whose true owners are easily disguised, making them perfect vehicles for money laundry. Read the rest

UK tax authority, gutted by austerity and buried by Brexit, can't deal with the crime revealed by the Paradise Papers

HMRC, the British tax authority, is 'struggling to deal with fallout of Paradise Papers leak,' according to Parliament's public accounts committee, whose new report describes an already understaffed agency whose workload has been increased by the preparations for Brexit. Read the rest

Publicly funded private school creates "poor kids' playground" for kids whose parents wouldn't contribute to new playground equipment

Wednesdbury Oak Academy in the West Midlands is an "academy school," similar to a US charter school -- a publicly funded, privately operated school, which, theory goes, is able to "experiment" with new educational techniques, by deviating from the standard curriculum, rejecting students on the basis of selection criteria, and hiring teachers without formal qualifications. Read the rest

Print of "lost" britcom discovered in Nigerian basement and restored with X-rays and laser-cutters

In the early days of TV, it was routine to tape over the recording medium after the initial air-date, which means that no video record exists of many of the pioneering moments in television. Read the rest

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