State and city leaders are trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus without full lockdowns. But whether curfews will help remains unclear.
The Suffolk County district attorney said she was seeking to remove the “huge stain on the legal system” left by Annie Dookhan, who pleaded guilty in 2013 to tampering with evidence.
The quake, which had a preliminary magnitude of 4.0, was also felt in the Long Island Sound, the United States Geological Survey said.
Nick Rocco, a passionate Trump follower in the Democratic bastion of Massachusetts, slowly realized it wasn’t going his way.
On Tuesday, voters in Massachusetts chose, by an overwhelming majority, to extend the state’s automotive “right to repair” law to cover connected-car platforms and telematics services. As a result, the state will require that from 2022, all new telematics-equipped vehicles be accessible via a standardized open-data platform that allows owners and third-party repair shops to access vehicle data from mobile devices.
Massachusetts’ automotive “right to repair” law was the first in the nation when originally passed in 2013. The aim was to fight the growing problem of automakers restricting their proprietary diagnostics tools to anyone other than official franchised dealer networks. When the law came into effect in 2018, it required that every vehicle sold in the state has a “non-proprietary vehicle interface device” for accessing mechanical data.
But the automotive industry is rapidly going wireless when it comes to getting data out of cars. Almost every new car sold in the United States in 2020 is fitted with an onboard cellular modem, and every OEM has invested in cloud infrastructure, promising benefits like vehicles that know when to ask for preventative maintenance servicing. Those cloud platforms have been guarded by the automakers, some of whom smell dollars in all that data.
Some New Yorkers are trying to find a way to celebrate Halloween despite concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
It’s not just big tech that’s getting the antitrust treatment from the Department of Justice.
Late Monday afternoon, the Department of Justice tipped its hand that it was investigating Visa’s proposed $5.3 billion acquisition of the venture-backed Plaid, which allows applications to connect with a users’ bank account.
It’s a tool that powers a good chunk of the new fintech offerings from a whole slew of products and the Justice Department has apparently spent the past year looking into how the deal would effect the broader market for new financial services offerings coming from a number of tech startups.
The revelation that the DOJ was taking a closer look at the Plaid acquisition came from a petition filed in the U.S. Court for the District of Massachusetts to compel Bain & Co., the consulting firm that worked on Visa’s bid for Plaid, to comply with the agency’s civil investigative demand.
The DOJ is alleging that Bain has withheld documents demanded under the CID by asserting that it had some privilege over the documents — effectively stalling the DOJ’s investigation.
“American consumers rely on the Antitrust Division to investigate mergers promptly and thoroughly,” said Assistant Attorney for the Antitrust Division Makan Delrahim, in a statement. “Collecting relevant third-party documents and data is essential to the division’s ability to analyze these transactions. Too often, third parties seek to flout these requirements, hoping the division will lose interest and focus its enforcement efforts elsewhere.”
DOJ first asked Bain for documents related to Visa’s pricing strategy and competition against other debit card networks in June. The feds intended to use that information to analyze the effects of Visa’s attempted acquisition on the broader financial services market. Bain refused to produce the documents by claiming that the information was privileged.
Visa’s bid for Plaid isn’t the only big fintech acquisition that’s in the DOJ’s sights, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal. Federal regulators are also looking at MasterCard’s $1 billion bid for the fintech startup Finicity, and Intuit’s $7 billion pitch to acquire the credit advisory and lending marketplace, Credit Karma Inc.
“The division’s petition against Bain is aimed at securing relevant documents and making clear that the division will hold third parties to the deadlines and specifications in the CIDs we issue,” Delrahim said. “Third parties, like Bain, must comply fully and expeditiously with our civil investigative demands and provide the documents and data we need to discharge our duties and serve the American people.”
Facebook will soon be the latest tech giant to enter the world of cloud gaming. Their approach is different than what Microsoft or Google has built but Facebook highlights a shared central challenge: dealing with Apple.
Facebook is not building a console gaming competitor to compete with Stadia or xCloud, instead the focus is wholly on mobile games. Why cloud stream mobile games that your device is already capable of running locally? Facebook is aiming to get users into games more quickly and put less friction between a user seeing an advertisement for a game and actually playing it themselves. Users can quickly tap into the title without downloading anything and if they eventually opt to download the title from a mobile app store, they’ll be able to pick up where they left off.
Facebook’s service will launch on the desktop web and Android, but not iOS due to what Facebook frames as usability restrictions outlined in Apple’s App Store terms and conditions.
While Apple has suffered an onslaught of criticism in 2020 from developers of major apps like Spotify, Tinder and Fortnite for how much money they take as a cut from revenues of apps downloaded from the App Store, the plights of companies aiming to build cloud gaming platforms have been more nuanced and are tied to how those platforms are fundamentally allowed to operate on Apple devices.
Apple was initially slow to provide a path forward for cloud gaming apps from Google and Microsoft, which had previously been outlawed on the App Store. The iPhone maker recently updated its policies to allow these apps to exist, but in a more convoluted capacity than the platform makers had hoped, forcing them to first send users to the App Store before being able to cloud stream a gaming title on their platform.
For a user downloading a lengthy single-player console epic, the short pitstop is an inconvenience, but long-time Facebook gaming exec Jason Rubin says that the stipulations are a non-starter for what Facebook’s platform envisions, a way to start playing mobile games immediately without downloading anything.
“It’s a sequence of hurdles that altogether make a bad consumer experience,” Rubin tells TechCrunch.
Apple tells TechCrunch that they have continued to engage with Facebook on bringing its gaming efforts under its guidelines and that platforms can reach iOS by either submitting each individual game to the App Store for review or operating their service on Safari.
In terms of building the new platform onto the mobile web, Rubin says that without being able to point users of their iOS app to browser-based experiences, as current rules forbid, Facebook doesn’t see pushing its billions of users to accessing the service primarily from a browser as a reasonable alternative. In a Zoom call, Rubin demoes how this could operate on iOS, with users tapping an advertisement inside the app and being redirected to a game experience in mobile Safari.
“But if I click on that, I can’t go to the web. Apple says, ‘No, no, no, no, no, you can’t do that,’ Rubin tells us. “Apple may say that it’s a free and open web, but what you can actually build on that web is dictated by what they decide to put in their core functionality.”
Rubin, who co-founded the game development studio Naughty Dog in 1994 before it was acquired by Sony in 2001, has been at Facebook since he joined Oculus months after its 2014 acquisition was announced. Rubin had previously been tasked with managing the games ecosystem for its virtual reality headsets, this year he was put in charge of the company’s gaming initiatives across their core family of apps as the company’s VP of Play.
Rubin, well familiar with game developer/platform skirmishes, was quick to distinguish the bone Facebook had to pick with Apple and complaints from those like Epic Games which sued Apple this summer.
“I do want to put a pin in the fact that we’re giving Google 30% [on Android]. The Apple issue is not about money,” Rubin tells TechCrunch. “We can talk about whether or not it’s fair that Google takes that 30%. But we would be willing to give Apple the 30% right now, if they would just let consumers have the opportunity to do what we’re offering here.”
Facebook is notably also taking a 30% cut of transaction within these games, even as Facebook’s executive team has taken its own shots at Apple’s steep revenue fee in the past, most recently criticizing how Apple’s App Store model was hurting small businesses during the pandemic. This saga eventually led to Apple announcing that it would withhold its cut through the end of the year for ticket sales of small businesses hosting online events.
Apple’s reticence to allow major gaming platforms a path towards independently serving up games to consumers underscores the significant portion of App Store revenues that could be eliminated by a consumer shift towards these cloud platforms. Apple earned around $50 billion from the App Store last year, CNBC estimates, and gaming has long been their most profitable vertical.
Though Facebook is framing this as an uphill battle against a major platform for the good of the gamer, this is hardly a battle between two underdogs. Facebook pulled in nearly $70 billion in ad revenues last year and improving their offerings for mobile game studios could be a meaningful step towards increasing that number, something Apple’s App Store rules threaten.
For the time being, Facebook is keeping this launch pretty conservative. There are just 5-10 titles that are going to be available at launch, Rubin says. Facebook is rolling out access to the new service, which is free, this week across a handful of states in America, including California, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and West Virginia. The hodge-podge nature of the geographic rollout is owed to the technical limitations of cloud-gaming– people have to be close to data centers where the service has rolled out in order to have a usable experience. Facebook is aiming to scale to the rest of the U.S. in the coming months, they say.
There is no silver bullet to slay internet lies and fictions. But students can be taught to know when information is reliable.
Seatbelt laws were a hard sell in state capitals as opponents argued they were uncomfortable or an imposition on personal liberty. Sound familiar?
Some in Wareham, Mass., worried the enormous, blob-like fish was stranded. Others thought it was a shark. It turned out to be a sunfish, and town officials urged residents to stop reporting it.
In Massachusetts, rule changes brought on by the pandemic — no contact, no tackles, no headers, no throw-ins — are forcing soccer players and coaches to adapt to a very different game.
Editors at the world’s leading medical journal said the Trump administration “took a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.”
Climate change is taking a toll on woodlands in the Northeast.
The C.D.C. and four state health departments described how one girl spread the coronavirus to 11 relatives during a gathering.
The former leaders of the state-run Holyoke Soldiers’ Home in Massachusetts were indicted by a state grand jury on abuse and neglect charges related to their work there.
Schools, forced to cancel in-person classes because of the pandemic, have become more comfortable with remote teaching. That might mean the end of the snow day.
Engineers at MIT, in partnership with the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, have devised a way to build a camera lens that avoids the typical spherical curve of ultra-wide-angle glass, while still providing true optical fisheye distortion. The fisheye lens is relatively specialist, producing images that can cover as wide an area as 180 degrees or more, but they can be very costly to produce, and are typically heavy, large lenses that aren’t ideal for use on small cameras like those found on smartphones.
This is the first time that a flat lens has been able to product clear, 180-degree images that cover a true panoramic spread. The engineers were able to make it work by patterning a thin wafer of glass on one side with microscopic, three-dimensional structures that are positioned very precisely in order to scatter any inbound light in precisely the same way that a curved piece of glass would.
The version created by the researchers in this case is actually designed to work specifically with the infrared portion of the light spectrum, but they could also adapt the design to work with visible light, they say. Whether IR or visible light, there are a range of potential uses of this technology, since capturing a 180-degree panorama is useful not only in some types of photography, but also for practical applications like medical imaging, and in computer vision applications where range is important to interpreting imaging data.
This design is just one example of what’s called a ‘Metalens’ – lenses that make use of microscopic features to change their optical characteristics in ways that would traditionally have been accomplished through macro design changes – like building a lens with an outward curve, for instance, or stacking multiple pieces of glass with different curvatures to achieve a desired field of view.
What’s unusual here is that the ability to accomplish a clear, detailed and accurate 180-degree panoramic image with a perfectly flat metalens design came as a surprise even to the engineers who worked on the project. It’s definitely an advancement of the science that goes beyond what may assumed was the state of the art.
We’re also rounding up thought-provoking ideas about Covid-era education, and bringing you the latest local updates for K-12 and college.
Mr. Auchincloss, a city councilor, won the highly fragmented House race with just 23 percent of the vote, as nine candidates split the electorate.
When the pandemic hit, shows across America went dark. A regional theater in New England thinks it has found a way back.
There are lessons here for Joe Biden.
Cygilant, a threat detection cybersecurity company, has confirmed a ransomware attack.
Christina Lattuca, Cygilant’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that the company was “aware of a ransomware attack impacting a portion of Cygilant’s technology environment.”
“Our Cyber Defense and Response Center team took immediate and decisive action to stop the progression of the attack. We are working closely with third-party forensic investigators and law enforcement to understand the full nature and impact of the attack. Cygilant is committed to the ongoing security of our network and to continuously strengthening all aspects of our security program,” the statement said.
Cygilant is believed to be the latest victim of NetWalker, a ransomware-as-a-service group, which lets threat groups rent access to its infrastructure to launch their own attacks, according to Brett Callow, a ransomware expert and threat analyst at security firm Emsisoft .
The file-encrypting malware itself not only scrambles a victim’s files but also exfiltrates the data to the hacker’s servers. The hackers typically threaten to publish the victim’s files if the ransom isn’t paid.
A site on the dark web associated with the NetWalker ransomware group posted screenshots of internal network files and directories believed to be associated with Cygilant.
Cygilant did not say if it paid the ransom. But at the time of writing, the dark web listing with Cygilant’s data had disappeared.
“Groups permanently delist companies when they’ve paid or, in some cases, temporarily delist them once they’ve agreed to come to the negotiating table,” said Callow. “NetWalker has temporarily delisted pending negotiations in at least one other case.”
Election experts said that Tuesday’s primary offered a mix of smart policies and harsh deadlines, and that the state benefited from not having a highly charged political atmosphere.
In Massachusetts, Ed Markey held off Joe Kennedy: This is your morning tip sheet.
Mr. Neal had faced a well-funded young progressive, Alex Morse, in a race that typified the tensions between Democratic leadership in Washington and upstart activists on the left.
The result was the first loss by a Kennedy in a Massachusetts election and demonstrated the progressive energy that is reshaping the Democratic Party.
Mr. Neal had faced a well-funded young progressive, Alex Morse, in a race that typified the tensions between Democratic leadership in Washington and upstart activists on the left.
On Tuesday, federal agents served a Massachusetts teenager with a search warrant. He appears to have played a significant role in the July 15 Twitter attack, investigators and fellow hackers said.
Senator Edward J. Markey is facing off against Joseph P. Kennedy III, while the powerful Representative Richard E. Neal is confronting a challenge from the young mayor Alex Morse.
Vague allegations against the Massachusetts congressional candidate offer a case study in how progressives navigate issues of sex and power in politics when judgment is often swift and unforgiving.
Pharmacists may now vaccinate young children under a new federal emergency rule aimed at helping families who missed well-child visits during the pandemic.
In 2013, voters in Massachusetts passed a law that requires car manufacturers to sell diagnostic software to third-party repair shops. It was the first automotive “right to repair” law in the country and was a response to the escalating trend of automakers blocking access to vehicle diagnostic data to everyone other than their respective franchised repair networks. This year, campaigners are returning to the ballot box to expand the state law to now include any wireless (or telematic) data.
Part of Massachusetts’ existing right to repair law requires, from model year 2018 onward, that every vehicle has “a non-proprietary vehicle interface device”—invariably an OBDII port—by which owners and independent garages can access diagnostic information.
But the auto industry is going wireless. Unlike in the European Union, there’s no federal requirement for an embedded modem in every new vehicle, but it’s still becoming hard to buy a new car or truck that doesn’t have some form of onboard connectivity and the ability to communicate with home when it’s in distress.
The term was “adopted by some states after the Civil War in an effort to disenfranchise African-American voters,” the court noted.
A third of states have strict measures in place for visitors, from mandatory testing to quarantine requirements.
An independent report on the coronavirus outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home describes “the opposite of infection control,” as administrators combined wards of infected and uninfected patients.
Peter Fratus sent the emails to Commissioner Danielle Outlaw, who is African-American, amid some of the largest protests over the death of George Floyd, a criminal complaint said.
Boston’s tech boom has led to a huge need for tech-related talent. But while the last decade has brought nearly 72,000 new tech jobs to Massachusetts, the growth brought with it slim progress regarding the makeup of who actually fills those roles. (Spoiler: It’s largely white men.)
According to MassTLC, it will take until 2085 for Black workers to reach the same hiring rate of white men in the industry today. For Latinos, it will take until 2045. And for women, it will take until 2070.
In this month’s Boston column, we decided to check in on the region’s diversity efforts. Boston is a city that has been defined both by a historically racist reputation and its university-driven liberal bonafides. As companies across the country have reacted to systemic racism with promises to do better when it comes to hiring, we wondered: Is Boston stepping up to the plate when it comes to hiring underrepresented candidates?
Using a list generated by a simple, time-bounded Crunchbase search for most recent Boston-area fundraising events. we turned to 15 companies that have recently raised within Boston and asked about their diversity efforts:
- Ginkgo Bioworks
- Wasabi Technologies
- Orbita AI
- Atea Pharmaceuticals
- LifePod Solutions
- AllHere Education
- Canvas GFX
- PIC Therapeutics
- Tyme Wear
Only a handful of companies responded, which wasn’t a good sign. Boston has a stunted record of releasing diversity data, so the silence was somewhat expected, if a little disappointing. Let’s review the responses we received to see what we can learn from both the answers (and the nonanswers).
At the end, we’ll look at some recent Boston venture data. We also have a new Boston investor survey coming later this month, so stay tuned.
In a surprise blog post, Amazon said it will put the brakes on providing its facial recognition technology to police for one year, but refuses to say if the move applies to federal law enforcement agencies.
The moratorium comes two days after IBM said in a letter it was leaving the facial recognition market altogether. Arvind Krishna, IBM’s chief executive, cited a “pursuit of justice and racial equity” in light of the recent protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis last month.
Amazon’s statement — just 102 words in length — did not say why it was putting the moratorium in place, but noted that Congress “appears ready” to work on stronger regulations governing the use of facial recognition — again without providing any details. It’s likely in response to the Justice in Policing Act, a bill that would, if passed, restrict how police can use facial recognition technology.
“We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested,” said Amazon in the unbylined blog post.
But the statement did not say if the moratorium would apply to the federal government, the source of most of the criticism against Amazon’s facial recognition technology. Amazon also did not say in the statement what action it would take after the yearlong moratorium expires.
Amazon is known to have pitched its facial recognition technology, Rekognition, to federal agencies, like Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Last year, Amazon’s cloud chief Andy Jassy said in an interview the company would provide Rekognition to “any” government department.
Amazon spokesperson Kristin Brown declined to comment further or say if the moratorium applies to federal law enforcement.
There are dozens of companies providing facial recognition technology to police, but Amazon is by far the biggest. Amazon has come under the most scrutiny after its Rekognition face-scanning technology showed bias against people of color.
In 2018, the ACLU found that Rekognition falsely matched 28 members of Congress as criminals in a mugshot database. Amazon criticized the results, claiming the ACLU had lowered the facial recognition system’s confidence threshold. But a year later, the ACLU of Massachusetts found that Rekognition had falsely matched 27 New England professional athletes against a mugshot database. Both tests disproportionately mismatched Black people, the ACLU found.
Investors brought a proposal to Amazon’s annual shareholder meeting almost exactly a year ago that would have forcibly banned Amazon from selling its facial recognition technology to the government or law enforcement. Amazon defeated the vote with a wide margin.
The ACLU acknowledged Amazon’s move to pause sales of Rekognition, which it called a “threat to our civil rights and liberties,” but called on the company and other firms to do more.
Database security startup jSonar has secured $50 million in new funding from Goldman Sachs .
The company, with offices in Waltham, Mass. and Vancouver, B.C., will use the new funding to grow its database security offering. In return, Goldman Sachs executive David Campbell will join jSonar’s board.
jSonar’s database security platform can monitor every one of its customers’ databases at a glance, regardless of whether they’re stored on-premise or in the cloud, and supports every popular database platform. The platform is designed to make it easy for staff to monitor any database across their infrastructure with meaningful insights, without having to use multiple tools across different networks and databases.
The company is clearly doing something right: the platform is popular with some of the biggest banks, financial institutions, insurance firms and healthcare organizations, a huge driver of revenue for the startup.
Ron Bennatan, jSonar’s co-founder and chief technology officer said he was “thrilled” the investment.
“The rapidly shifting enterprise landscape, including cloud adoption, an explosion of database platforms, the pressing need for data security beyond only compliance, and years of frustration over runaway costs, has created a huge opportunity for us to rapidly expand,” he said.
Inside the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home was a man who had served as a jailer to Hitler’s top aide. A man who had rescued Japanese kamikaze pilots from the sea. A man who carried memories of a concentration camp.
Pandemic or not, immigrants’ work has always been essential.
Congress will allow remote voting for the first time in its history, after the U.S. House approved Resolution 965 late Friday in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The measure — sponsored by Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern — authorizes proxy voting by members for renewable periods of 45 days and allows for remote participation in committee hearings.
H.R. 965 could also permanently alter the way Congress operates through a provision that establishes a bi-partisan process to explore digital voting away from Capitol Hill.
Per the directive, “The chair of the Committee on House Administration, in consultation with the ranking minority member, shall study the feasibility of using technology to conduct remote voting in the House, and shall provide certification…that operable and secure technology exists.”
Previous House rules required in person voting only. The Senate still makes decisions by recording verbal “Yeas” and “Nays” on a tally sheet.
Friday’s congressional action is another example of how COVID-19 is forcing every organization in the U.S. to overhaul longstanding ways of doing things, usually through a mix of digital tools.
We still don’t have clear details on what tech the U.S. House will use to implement both the short and longer term provisions of H.R. 965.
The proxy voting arrangement will allow members to vote remotely through designated representatives on Capitol Hill — effectively a form of pinch-hitting for Congress. For remote participation in hearings, there are a range of options that could be selected — from Google Meet to Microsoft Teams. Last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci testified before the U.S. Senate using Zoom.
On determining long-term means for remote voting, that’s now up to the Chairperson of the Committee on House Administration — representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) — and the ranking minority member Rodney Davis (R-IL), who voted against H.R. 965.
Lofgren offered a preview of how it could shape up in a statement supporting H.R. 965 late Friday: “For voting on the floor, we will rely on a secure email system, coupled with member-driven, remotely-directed authorizations. This system would use secure email for proxy votes: a solid, well known, resilient technology with very low bandwidth requirements that we understand very well from a cybersecurity standpoint.”
Of course, she and Republican Congressman Davis will have to find agreement on this during a time when both parties rarely agree on anything. The vote on H.R. 965 was split along party lines, with 217 Dems voting in favor and not a single Republican member supporting the measure.
In the past, Congress has resisted calls to allow for remote voting. There was discussion of the need for such provisions after the September 11 attacks and 2001 Anthrax attacks. These was overridden by a long time expectation that those elected to represent constituencies be physically present to vote.
Over the last two months, it appeared the House might become a last holdout in the U.S. for in person only workplaces, as much of the country has shifted to tech-enabled measures for remote operations.
Shortly after the coronavirus outbreak hit the U.S. in March, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-CA) pressed a resolution with Arkansas Representative Rick Crawford (R-AR) that would allow members to participate virtually in hearings and vote remotely, under special circumstances.
That was nixed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who, at the time, wanted Congress to remain in session and present to pass the first coronavirus stimulus bill.
Two months and nearly one hundred thousand American deaths later, it appears COVID-19 could force one of the more significant procedural changes in the House’s 231 year history.
In person voting could soon be replaced with some form of two-factor authentication, digital voting. This could alter longstanding patterns for how lawmakers travel, interact with constituencies, and divide their time between the Beltway and districts back home.
A ruling in Massachusetts finds that involuntary nondisparagement orders, commonly used to keep spouses from discussing their cases on social media, are unconstitutional.
The $500,000 fund comes a year after black students said they had been subjected to racist remarks by employees and patrons at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Chelsea, Mass., has an infection rate higher than any other community in the state. With families in cramped housing, it is difficult to contain the spread.
California, New Jersey and New York have made nursing homes accept Covid-19 patients from hospitals. Residents and workers fear the policy is risking lives.
Federal prosecutors said that John Michael Rathbun tried to ignite a gas canister near the center in Massachusetts that had been targeted for attack on a white supremacist website.
South Korea has been a model of testing and tracing during the epidemic. Now it is for voting, too.
Asian countries have invested heavily in digital contact-tracing, which uses technology to warn people when they have been exposed to the coronavirus. Massachusetts is using an old-fashioned means: people.