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Byford’s signals guru also leaving MTA … Lawmakers want to ban ransomware payments … and more of today’s tech news

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The Latest

Lawmakers want to ban ransomware payments
Two New York lawmakers – state Sens. Phil Boyle and David Carlucci – have proposed bills banning local municipalities and governments from using taxpayer money to pay ransomware demands. (Techradar)

Byford’s signals guru also leaving MTA
Pete Tomlin, the engineer whom outgoing subways chief Andy Byford recruited to spearhead the wholesale resignaling of New York City’s aged subway system, is following his boss out the door. (Politico)

Drivers worry over gig economy bill
One piece of legislation in Albany aimed at protecting gig workers would categorize many independent contractors as employees, and while several drivers for ride-hail companies said they believe the spirit of the bill is well-intentioned, they also worried that the proposed law may stymie the freedom they have. (Times Union)

New York City e-bike crackdown mainly hurts delivery workers
Last year, police overwhelmingly penalized delivery workers, not the businesses that employ them, for using e-bikes to do their jobs, with only 71 e-bike summonses issued to businesses in all of 2019, while 1,052 summonses were issued to e-bike riders. (Gothamist)

311 slammed for failing the deaf
New York City’s complaint and information hotline, 311, isn’t only frustrating for non-native English callers – it’s also an “epic failure” for deaf and hard-of-hearing users, City Councilman Fernando Cabrera charges. (The City)

Influx of solar farms leads to backlash upstate
Solar, along with wind turbines, currently makes up a small portion of the state’s energy needs, with most of the power still coming from existing natural gas and nuclear plants. But for some, solar farms may be coming too fast, leading to legal battles and local activist campaigns. (Times Union)

New Jersey bars police from using Clearview facial recognition app
New Jersey police officers are now barred from using a facial recognition app made by a start-up that has licensed its groundbreaking technology to hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the country. (The New York Times)

State AGs to meet with Justice officials on Google probe
State attorneys general will meet with U.S. Justice Department attorneys next week to share information on their respective probes of Google, a step that could eventually lead to the groups joining forces, according to people familiar with the matter. (The Wall Street Journal)


Face recognition is not the enemy
Face recognition technology is a great advance over the way we used to identify suspects, eyewitness memory. It promises to identify the guilty with greater accuracy and exonerate the innocent. And though we should guard against private-sector abuses, we should welcome its responsible use by police and prosecutors. (Former NYPD Commissioner William Bratton, Daily News)


Banning cashless stores won’t fix New York’s deeper problem
New York’s ban on cashless stores has at least highlighted a critical issue: A surprisingly large number of Americans still don’t have a bank account. But protecting their ability to pay for things with notes and coins won’t fix this issue. A better policy could be to make sure everyone has a bank account and can pay with cash if they choose to. (Quartz)

Surveillance AI can tell schools where students are and where they’ve been
At least nine U.S. public school districts – including the Florida district that is home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history – have acquired analytic surveillance cameras that come with new, AI-based software, including one tool called Appearance Search. (Recode)


Software startup raises $25M
In software development, Atlassian’s Jira product suite holds rarified status as a market leader with few large-scale competitors. But in New York’s growing enterprise tech scene, a startup called Clubhouse has declared itself a challenger, recently announcing it raised $25 million in a Series B funding round. (Forbes)

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