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Liu, Ortiz propose texting ban … City buys more electric vehicles … and more of today’s tech news

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Liu, Ortiz propose texting ban
State Sen. John Liu and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz introduced a bill this week that would ban texting while crossing the street, citing safety concerns that in some cases have proven deadly, with fines for first-time and repeat violations ranging from $25 to $250. (New York Post)

NYC buys more electric vehicles
New York City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services is revving up the conversion of its vehicular fleet to battery power by buying 2,200 electric vehicles to replace gas-fueled automobiles in its quest to have 4,000 of the electric models by 2025. (Crain’s New York Business)

NYPD used celebrity photos for facial recognition
The New York Police Department allegedly abused its facial recognition system by editing suspects’ photos – and by uploading celebrity lookalikes – in an effort to identify people wanted for crimes, according to a Georgetown Center on Privacy and Technology report released on Thursday. (NBC News)

Schumer presses for more military tech
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is pressing the Senate Armed Service Committee to ask the Pentagon for new military technologies for aircrews, citing the 2018 helicopter crash in Iraq that killed four members of a Long Island-based National Guard rescue team that the senator said could have been avoided. (Newsday)

IDG forms drivers’ mental health group
The Independent Drivers Guild – an organized-labor group that supports New York’s drivers for Uber, Lyft, and other rideshare services – has formed a driver wellness center offering counseling, classes, and group therapy in an attempt to provide mental health services for an industry in which nine drivers have died by suicide in the last year. (Quartz)

Phone carriers end location data sharing
The four major phone carriers have told the Federal Communications Commission that they are no longer sharing customers’ location data with third parties after the companies’ data-sharing practices came under increased scrutiny from regulators this year. (The Hill)

Musk delays internet satellite launch
For the second time in two nights, SpaceX, the private rocket company founded by Elon Musk, said on Thursday that it would postpone the launch of dozens of satellites in an attempt to launch Starlink, the company’s bid to get into the space-based internet business. (The New York Times)

Export clampdown will sting Silicon Valley
The U.S. Commerce Department’s move to clamp down on exports to Huawei Technologies, requiring its U.S. suppliers to apply for licenses to sell to the firm, will sting Silicon Valley, which supplies many advanced components for Huawei, the world’s leading telecommunications gear provider. (The Wall Street Journal)

White House launches bias reporting tool
The White House launched a tool this week that allows people to report possible "political bias" by social media companies, following accusations by President Trump and top Republicans that social media companies have been censoring right-wing voices. (The Hill)


Facial recognition must be put on hold
This week, San Francisco’s board of supervisors voted to ban the use of facial-recognition technology by the city’s police and other agencies. States, cities and the federal government should impose an immediate moratorium on facial recognition. Let’s not jump into an all-seeing future without understanding the risks at hand. (Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times)


U.S. government won’t decide ride-hail drivers’ future
The U.S. National Labor Relations Board’s decision that Uber drivers are independent contractors is a blow to unionizing efforts. But the future for Uber drivers won’t be decided by the federal government, because the best advances in working conditions for ride-hail drivers have come from local governments like New York City. (Quartz)

Tech companies are shaping AI rules
As policymakers consider installing guardrails on artificial intelligence to prevent harm to society, tech companies are taking a close interest – and, in some cases, appear to be trying to steer construction of any new guardrails to their own benefit. (Wired)

Electric revolution starts with buses
A new report from Bloomberg’s New Energy Finance estimates that electric vehicle buying will soon outpace conventional car sales, but it’s the municipal bus that’s at the forefront of the electric-vehicle revolution, with municipalities like New York City citing their lower long-term cost as the best option for the future. (Quartz)


Cornell professor launching his own coin
Emin Gun Sirer, a crypto professor at Cornell University, is launching his own cryptocurrency coin and network – called Ava – promising high throughput, fast confirmation times of transactions, and support applications ranging from supply-chain tracking to keeping tabs on securities and gold. (Crain’s New York Business)

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