United’s Newest Planes Finally Support Bluetooth Audio, and It’s About Damn Time

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United just announced that it’s making a massive purchase of 270 new planes. Better yet, those planes will have upgraded cabin technology, like upgraded in-seat displays, faster wifi, and, most notably, support for Bluetooth audio. And while it’s about time United’s planes got some new tech, I’m also wondering if it’s…

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Volvo’s new electric concept car is a ‘manifesto’ for the future

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Volvo unveiled a new concept car that forecasts the Swedish automaker’s all-electric future. The vehicle was revealed during a “Tech Day” event held Wednesday during which Volvo laid out an extensive roadmap to becoming an EV-only carmaker by 2030.

The vehicle, called “Concept Recharge,” features suicide doors that open up to a roomy interior, where the lack of an internal combustion engine means more space for the driver and passengers. The sleek exterior design and minimalist interior certainly evoke Tesla but also are reminiscent of other EVs on the market, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E.

But the concept won’t necessarily appear in this form as a production vehicle. Henrik Green, chief technology officer at Volvo, said it was…

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Robinhood saddled with historic $70 million fine from financial regulators

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) announced on Wednesday that it’s fining Robinhood almost $70 million to settle charges over issues it identified with the company’s stock trading service. The authority claims that the financial app company neglected its duty to supervise trades, maintain its own technology, and protect its customers. The fine is the largest in FINRA’s history and Robinhood has agreed to pay.

FINRA says since 2016 Robinhood has periodically provided false and misleading information on topics like whether customers were able to place trades on margin (using credit from Robinhood to buy shares), including displaying inaccurate information in its app on how much cash was in customers’ accounts.

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Maine passes the strongest state facial recognition ban yet

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

The state of Maine now has the most stringent laws regulating government use of facial recognition in the country.

The new law prohibits government use of facial recognition except in specifically outlined situations, with the most broad exception being if police have probable cause that an unidentified person in an image committed a serious crime, or for proactive fraud prevention.

Since Maine police will not have access to facial recognition, they will be able to ask the FBI and Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) to run these searches.

Crucially, the law plugs loopholes that police have used in the past to gain access to the technology, like informally asking other agencies or third parties to run backchannel searches for them. Logs…

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Contract to investigate Colorado judicial department still not awarded

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More than a month after eight companies submitted bids to investigate Colorado’s judicial department — and five months after The Denver Post exposed the problems that led to the inquiry — officials are little closer to getting it all underway.

A committee of eight people including two senators, three state representatives, and three others named by the governor and attorney general have met a handful of times to review the proposals, but there’s no specific timeline to choose who’ll do the job and no one’s offering details about how long it could take.

None of the eight — Sen. Pete Lee, D-Colorado Springs, Sen. Bob Gardner, R-Colorado Springs, Rep. Kerry Tipper, D-Lakewood, Rep. Adrienne Benavidez, D-Commerce City, Rep. Terri Carver, R-Colorado Springs, gubernatorial chief legal counsel Jacki Cooper Melmed, Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration chief Kara Veitch, and Deputy Attorney General Maritza Dominguez Braswell — has offered any information to The Post’s requests for an update.

At least one person familiar with the process said the committee has met infrequently, in part because the legislative session ended June 8. More than 70 companies from 16 states downloaded information about the contract, many of them local law firms.

Lee and Gardner referred the newspaper’s questions to the department’s procurement division, which is handling the request for proposal. The division did not respond to several emails from The Post.

A department spokesman on Tuesday said the process is ongoing after earlier saying he had no information because it was being handled outside the normal protocol in order to keep the process independent.

“The panel is reviewing the proposals and will make recommendations of an entity or entities with whom we’ll begin negotiating a contract or contracts,” spokesman Jon Sarche said in an email. “We’ll announce the contract awardee(s) upon execution of the contract(s). There is no set timeline for that to happen.”

There is also no timeline for how long the investigation can take. It will pay as much as $350,000 for the inquiry.

“Recognizing that five of the eight members of the selection committee are legislators whose session recently concluded due to COVID-19 delays, it likely has been a challenge for the committee to move more quickly on this part of the process,” said Gina Glockner, president of the Colorado Women’s Bar Association. “We are eager to see the inquiry commence, and we understand it is critical that the selection panel is allowed the time necessary to ensure that the selected firm(s) will conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation.”

The panel drafted the request for bidders to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and gender discrimination within the judicial branch that former Chief of Staff Mindy Masias allegedly was prepared to make public in her own sexual discrimination lawsuit, according to a memo drafted in early 2019 by the division’s former human resources director Eric Brown.

Masias faced termination for financial irregularities but instead was awarded a sole-source $2.5 million contract for judicial training, according to the department’s former chief administrator. That contract was canceled amid a Denver Post investigation into the deal.

The memo only became public in February after stories by The Post revealed its existence.

Chief Justice Brian Boatright called for an independent inquiry before a joint session of the legislature soon afterward, promising that the results would be public.

A separate investigation for fraud by the state auditor is also ongoing, but its results are public only if charges are filed or the Judicial Department chooses to release it.

The memo included allegations of a chief justice ordering the destruction of an anonymous letter charging sexism and harassment, two district judges who later were named chief separately sharing pornographic videos on judicial email, the cover-up of a law clerk’s harassment allegations in order to keep “safe” a Court of Appeals judge who was a candidate for the Supreme Court, and a district judge rubbing his bared chest on the back of a female employee.

The memo also contained other allegations, including the destruction of evidence and payoffs to silence victims.

The Smart Home Isn't Worth It

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A smart home that responds to your every command and automates mundane tasks is a tantalizing dream. But the reality is that given the current limitations of technology, competing standards, and devices that quickly become obsolete, trying to make that dream a reality today just isn’t worth all the effort.

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Google is moving away from APKs on the Play Store

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Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

Google has announced a big change for developers who want to list their apps on Google Play that could have an impact on the Android app ecosystem. Right now, the standard format for app publishing is the APK, but starting in August, Google will require that new Play apps are published instead using the Android App Bundle.

On a Google page about Android App Bundle, the company touts many potential improvements with the new format, such as smaller app downloads for users. But the format has a catch: Android App Bundles are a format that only Google Play uses, which could complicate app redistribution.

The timing of Google’s announcement also comes just days after Microsoft announced…

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WHO outlines principles for ethics in health AI

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Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization released a guidance document outlining six key principles for the ethical use of artificial intelligence in health. Twenty experts spent two years developing the guidance, which marks the first consensus report on AI ethics in healthcare settings.

The report highlights the promise of health AI, and its potential to help doctors treat patients — particularly in under-resourced areas. But it also stresses that technology is not a quick fix for health challenges, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, and that governments and regulators should carefully scrutinize where and how AI is used in health.

The WHO said it hopes the six principles can be the foundation for how governments, developers, and…

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Federal law enforcement agencies’ targeting of Americans’ records “routine,” Microsoft exec says

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WASHINGTON — Federal law enforcement agencies secretly seek the data of Microsoft customers thousands of times a year, according to congressional testimony Wednesday by a senior executive at the technology company.

Tom Burt, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for customer security and trust, told members of the House Judiciary Committee that federal law enforcement in recent years has been presenting the company with between 2,400 to 3,500 secrecy orders a year, or about seven to 10 a day.

“Most shocking is just how routine secrecy orders have become when law enforcement targets an American’s email, text messages or other sensitive data stored in the cloud,” said Burt, describing the widespread clandestine surveillance as a major shift from historical norms.

The relationship between law enforcement and Big Tech has attracted fresh scrutiny in recent weeks with the revelation that Justice Department prosecutors obtained as part of leak investigations phone records belonging not only to journalists but also to members of Congress and their staffers. Microsoft, for instance, was among the companies that turned over records under a court order, and because of a gag order, had to then wait more than two years before disclosing it.

Since then, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, called for an end to the overuse of secret gag orders, arguing in a Washington Post opinion piece that “prosecutors too often are exploiting technology to abuse our fundamental freedoms.” Attorney General Merrick Garland, meanwhile, has said the Justice Department will abandon its practice of seizing reporter records and will formalize that stance soon.

Burt is among the witnesses at a Judiciary Committee hearing about potential legislative solutions to intrusive leak investigations.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said in opening remarks Wednesday that the Trump administration took advantage of outdated policies on digital data searches to target journalists and others in leak investigations. The New York Democrat said that reforms are needed now to guard against future overreach by Justice Department prosecutors — an idea also expressed by Republicans on the committee.

“We cannot trust the department to police itself,” Nadler said.

Burt said that while the revelation that federal prosecutors had sought data about journalists and political figures was shocking to many Americans, the scope of surveillance is much broader. He criticized prosecutors for reflexively seeking secrecy through boilerplate requests that “enable law enforcement to just simply assert a conclusion that a secrecy order is necessary.”

Burt said that while Microsoft Corp. does cooperate with law enforcement on a broad range of criminal and national security investigations, it often challenges surveillance that it sees as unnecessary, resulting at times in advance notice to the account being targeted.

As possible solutions, Burt said, the government should end indefinite secrecy orders and should also be required to notify the target of the data demand once the secrecy order has expired.

Just this week, he said, prosecutors sought a blanket gag order affecting the government of a major U.S. city for a Microsoft data request targeting a single employee there.

“Without reform, abuses will continue to occur and they will occur in the dark,” Burt said.

“He went through hell”: Relocated widower among the missing in Florida condo collapse

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SURFSIDE, Florida — On a recent morning before communal prayers at a synagogue, Harry Rosenberg told a friend that his new beachfront condo in Florida offered a much-needed change of scenery after an awful year in which he lost his wife to cancer and both parents to COVID-19 in New York.

The home in Surfside was to be a gathering spot for visiting children and grandchildren, and his daughter and son-in-law were doing just that when they traveled to the condo last week from New Jersey to join him for the Sabbath.

Hours later, the building collapsed, and all three family members are missing in the rubble.

Their cascading tragedies — cancer, COVID-19 and now the flattening of the building — are reminders of the excruciating toll the collapse has taken on families after what was already a grief-filled year.

Elsewhere in the building, a woman also sought a fresh start in Florida after falling ill and recovering from COVID-19. Another man was visiting Florida to attend the funeral of an old friend who died after being infected, and a Colombian family was in Miami to get the vaccine.

“He told me, ‘It is the next chapter of my life.’ He went through hell. His parents passed away. His wife passed away,” said Steve Eisenberg, who saw the 52-year-old asset manager last week at the synagogue.

Rosenberg “came to Florida to breathe a little bit,¨ said Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar, founder of the Shul of Bal Harbour, the synagogue he joined.

When the building tumbled to the ground, Rosenberg’s daughter, Malky Weisz, 27, and her husband, Benny Weisz, 32, had just arrived for their visit on the second floor of Champlain Towers South. So far, 12 bodies have been recovered. Almost 150 people are still unaccounted for.

Described as a family man and observant Jew, Rosenberg had launched a young adult center for mental healing at a hospital in Israel in memory of his late wife, Anna Rosenberg.

Before his wife died last summer of a brain tumor, he spent three years taking care of her, a close friend said.

“He put his life on hold,” said Maurice Wachsmann, a friend of Rosenberg’s for more than 30 years.

Months after her death came more heartache. His father died of COVID-19 in January, and weeks later his mother died of the same.

“It was extremely difficult,” Wachsmann said. “He did everything for his parents. Family first, before everything.”

Rosenberg decided to move to Florida, first renting smaller apartments and finally buying last month the larger condo in Surfside, north of Miami Beach.

Last week, Rosenberg traveled to New York for the baby-naming ceremony of his second grandchild and rushed back to Miami to prepare for his daughter and son-in-law’s visit. She works as an auditor at a branch of the Roth & Co accounting firm in Farmington, New Jersey. Her Austrian-born husband works in finance.

In his short time in Florida, he was already known by people in the community. Fellow members of the synagogue and his family are now anxiously awaiting any news from the scene. In the pile of rubble, family and friends have spotted one remnant of his life at Surfside from afar: a white couch.