First Read Tech

Businesses slam ‘disconnect’ bill … L train shutdown cancelled … and more of today’s tech news

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The Latest

MTA going with Cuomo’s L plan
The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is plowing ahead with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to avert the L train shutdown, despite concerns raised by the authority’s board this week about its safety and staying power. (New York Post)

Court delays congestion fee again
The state’s new congestion tax on taxis, Ubers, Lyfts, and other rides is stuck in neutral after a judge extended an order keeping the levy from taking effect until Jan. 31, fueled by opposition from taxi drivers who say they’re under enough financial pressure from the proliferation of ride-hail apps. (New York Daily News)

NYPD emails show surveillance of Black Lives Matter
Hundreds of New York Police Department emails made public on Thursday reveal the department’s surveillance of Black Lives Matters protesters, including tracking of social media accounts and potential interception or interfering with protesters’ text messaging. (Wall Street Journal)

Businesses slam “disconnect” bill
Representatives of the city’s top industry groups said that legislation to give workers a “right to disconnect” is disconnected from reality. Mayor Bill de Blasio also declined to endorse the bill prohibiting businesses from penalizing employees who don’t respond to communications outside of their normal work hours. (Crain’s New York Business)

Amazon PR effort heats up
Amazon’s much-hyped new headquarters is still a ways off, but the company is already sending out fliers to quell the uprising, including mailers this week encouraging Queens residents to contact state Sen. Michael Gianaris – a noted Amazon critic – to voice support for HQ2. (Vice)

Cuomo extends driverless car testing 
Testing of autonomous vehicles in New York would continue into 2021, from the current 2019 deadline, under Gov. Cuomo’s proposed state budget proposal, as some predict the market for driverless vehicles will explode in the coming years. (Times Union)

Shareholders want Amazon to end facial recognition contracts with police
They are demanding the company stop selling its facial recognition software to law enforcement until the board of directors determines the technology does not contribute to violations of civil and human rights. (TechCrunch)

ACLU sues federal agencies for surveillance records
The American Civil Liberties Union sued seven federal agencies, including the Justice Department, State Department, and Customs and Border Protection, seeking to obtain records on how the government surveils people on social media after the agencies failed to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests. (The Hill)

AI surveillance goes to school
In the wake of high-profile school shootings, a new breed of intelligent video surveillance is being installed in schools around the country that follows people around campus and detects unusual behaviors. (Axios)

Opinion

The new plan for repairing the L-train tunnel is the best plan
Much of the technology we use in our daily lives was created by building off existing technologies in previously unimagined ways. Our new approach to repairing the L-train tunnel is one that would use emerging yet proven technology in ways that enhance the tunnel rehabilitation process as well as the tunnel’s safety. (Mary Boyce and Lance Collins, The New York Times)

Tech employers want congestion pricing
From attracting entrepreneurs to Brooklyn to the growth of startups across Manhattan – not to mention the 330,000 other tech jobs citywide – efficient transportation is imperative to cultivating talent in the city. (Julie Samuels, New York Daily News)

You deserve privacy online – here’s how you could actually get it
I and others are calling on the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation that should not only aim to put consumers in control of their data but also shine a light on actors trafficking in your data behind the scenes. (Tim Cook, Time)

City lawsuit shows anti-Airbnb enforcement in action
A vast Airbnb scheme that turned at least 130 apartments in 35 Manhattan buildings into de facto hotel suites begged for investigation, and the city’s lawsuit shows that state law is already comprehensive enough – New York doesn’t need the overreaching Airbnb law being pushed in City Council. (Daily News)

Analysis

How the feds failed to track thousands of separated children
A new report seems to confirm concerns about the ability of existing government technology to keep track of children separated from their parents at the border, as thousands of children separated by the Trump administration were tracked ad hoc using disparate databases including Excel spreadsheets. (Wired)

The logic behind WeWork leasing to itself
We Company chief executive officer Adam Neumann wouldn’t have been able to lease properties he owns to his company if it were publicly traded and subject to all the governance requirements that go along with that, real estate investor Sam Zell says. (Crain’s New York Business)

The hot new job in fintech: someone to deal with regulators
U.S. regulators’ increased interest over the last year in technology startups promising to reinvent finance is compelling the biggest names in fintech to prioritize a part of their business that’s often ignored – recruiting experts in regulatory compliance. (Bloomberg)

Profile

New fund looks to grow through acquisitions
To keep up with what they see as continuing consolidation in the industry, the former owners of Schenectady’s DocStar have started a new fund, Star Advisors, to help grow their computer networking business via acquisitions of similar IT companies. (Albany Business Review)

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