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By Garg Ankit
Portland bans use of facial recognition tech by government and private entities
by Garg Ankit
Image via Liberty Portland in Oregon has become the first city to ban the use of facial recognition technology by both goverment agencies as well as private players in "places of public accommodation." Both the ordinances were passed unanimously by the legislators.
During the hearing of this landmark ban, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler said:
The crackdown on the use of facial recognition technology in the States is not new, but so far it was limited to agencies answerable to the public. Boston, Oakland, and San Francisco are already on this list. But Portland took it a step further by prohibiting individuals and private organizations too.
Banks, convenience stores, doctor's offices, entertainment venues, hotels and Airbnb rentals, public transit stations, Uber and Lyft, and restaurants are places where the usage of the technology is now prohibited by the law. This also includes any place that provides publicly accessible facilities, goods or services, lodging, and transportation. Churches, private residences, and private clubs and institutions are exempted. Individuals, either working for the government or in the private sector, are allowed to use the technology to unlock their smart devices, and tag people or use face filters on social media websites. A penalty of up to $1,000 a day can be claimed if anyone is found violating the law.
Earlier this year, tech giants like Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft banned the police force from using their facial recognition technology citing bias and lack of strict regulations. Microsoft appears to be in favor of letting their tech be used, but want the authorities to regulate it strictly. In contrast, London's Met Police started using the tech in January this year, even though an earlier report claimed that innocent people are flagged 81% of the time.
The tech has definitely proven useful when Chinese authorities successfully nabbed a man in a crowd of 60,000. But the potential for misuse cannot be underestimated. Portland has preferred to take the side of citizens' privacy.
Source: Business Insider
KitchenAid SmartOven+ boasts digital assistant and smartphone app integrations
by Boyd Chan
Back in January at CES, KitchenAid unveiled its forthcoming Smart Oven+ connected oven with powered attachment compatibility which would include grill, steamer, and baking stone accessories. These attachments are designed to connect to a powered hub at the rear of the oven with the ability to swap them in and out as required.
Now, the Smart Oven+ is available for purchase in single and double variants, with a combination oven on the way later in 2019. Featuring a full-color, glass-touch 4.5-inch LCD display, Yummly app compatibility, and voice command capability via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, users will also be able to keep tabs on their culinary creations and adjust controls via the KitchenAid app in addition to alerts and notifications.
With respect to the development of the Smart Oven+, Christy Hoskins, senior brand manager for KitchenAid said at CES that:
If you're interested in the KitchenAid Smart Oven+ the single and double ovens can be purchased for $3,199 and $4,799 respectively. The powered grill attachment will also come included with these units while the other accessories in the range are available as optional extras.
By Ben Esapa
Uber has been using a secret tool called 'Greyball' to evade authorities
by Ben Esapa
An article by The New York Times outlines how Uber has been using a tool called Greyball to evade detection by authorities in cities and countries worldwide where local governments have been against the use of the ride-sharing app or have banned it completely.
Four current and former Uber employees provided details of Greyball, as well as documents detailing the program, to the New York Times. Greyball uses data collected from the Uber app such as credit card information to avoid sting operations and elude detection by officials. The program has been used in Boston and Las Vegas, as well as outside of the United States in countries such as Italy, France, Australia, and South Korea.
Greyball is one part of a larger program called VTOS, or "violation of terms of service," and is, according to the employees who contacted The New York Times, still in use today. Implementation of the program was noted in 2014 when a code enforcement officer in Oregon, Erich England, attempted to hail an Uber as part of a sting operation against the company, which had illegally started the ride-sharing service without obtaining legal permission in the city of Portland. England, and several other officers, attempted to hail rides but had their rides cancelled as the Greyball tool identified the officers as authority figures.
In a statement, Uber said the following about the program:
Reports of this program come at a time when Uber is experiencing several controversies including the CEO being recorded arguing with a driver, allegations of a sexist and hostile work environment at the company, and a lawsuit being brought against it by Google's parent company, Alphabet.
Source: The New York Times
By Chris Schroeder
Comcast is expanding its gigabit internet service, will be in 15 U.S. cities by early 2017
by Chris Schroeder
Comcast eyed gigabit internet a couple years ago, vowing to upgrade its existing network technology to handle a tier of internet that is slowly reaching major markets within the United States. As 2016 reaches its twilight, Comcast has announced its plans to branch its gigabit internet service out even further in the very-near future.
By early 2017, Comcast will have its gigabit internet service available in 15 cities/metropolitan areas. Through the Xfinity branch of Comcast, residents in certain cities (listed below) will have access to either a fiber-based gigabit internet service which has symmetrical download/upload speeds or a version of gigabit that is offered through the company's existing cable network. For those with access to the cable network, they will be able to achieve up gigabit download speeds but with upload speeds of 35 Mbps - still quick compared to the standards in most cities but significantly less than the fiber network offering.
Xfinity gigabit is available in five cities already. Along with Detroit, MI, which just got the hook up for Xfinity gigabit yesterday, Atlanta, Chicago, and Nashville all currently have access to gigabit services from Xfinity. Over the next several months, the following ten cities will also have the option for gigabit internet:
Denver, CO Indianapolis, IN Jacksonville, FL Kansas City, MO Knoxville, TN Portland, OR San Francisco "Bay Area", CA San Jose, CA Salt Lake City, UT Seattle, WA Those areas that will not have access to Xfinity's fiber network will be required to have a newer DOCSIS 3.1 modem in order to receive advertised speeds. The current rate for gigabit internet through Xfinity is around $140/mo. For some fiber network areas, Xfinity also offers Gigabit Pro - a 2 Gbps download/upload service that costs $159/mo during its promo pricing time (said to be a couple years) and $300/mo after that. The price is steep, yes, but so are the activation fees and installation, which will set you back $1,000 upon signing up for the service.
Comcast intends to offer gigabit internet through its cable-based network throughout the 39 states and Washington, D.C., where the company currently offers services, before the end of 2018.
Source: Ars Technica