Execs Who Ran MoviePass Charged in Alleged Fraud Scheme

The two individuals who once ran MoviePass have been charged with engaging in a criminal scheme to defraud investors of Helios and Matheson Analytics (HMNY), a publicly traded company based in Florida and New York that invested and then took over the subscription-based movie ticketing service. Ted Farnsworth, former chairman and CEO of MoviePass parent HMNY, and Mitch Lowe, former MoviePass CEO, are each charged with one count of securities fraud and three counts of wire fraud. If convicted, the Florida men face possible prison time of 20 years per count. Continue reading Execs Who Ran MoviePass Charged in Alleged Fraud Scheme

Google Shows Off Impressive Range of AI at NY Media Event

Google Research is touting new advances in artificial intelligence, which can now generate its own code and write fiction, in addition to better text-to-video and language translation. At a New York media event at Google’s Pier 57 office — which opened earlier this year to become the company’s third Manhattan outpost — roughly a dozen projects in various stages of development were on display, with robot learning, LaMDA (language model for dialogue applications) and text-generated 3D images sharing the spotlight with practical AI for things like disaster management, weather forecasts and healthcare. Continue reading Google Shows Off Impressive Range of AI at NY Media Event

France Sanctions Clearview AI €20M for Violating GDPR Rules

Clearview AI, the New York-based facial recognition firm that is targeting 100 billion facial images in its database by the close of 2022, has been fined €20 million ($19.7 million) by France’s data protection authority, the CNIL, for what the agency says is the illegal collection and processing of personal biometric data belonging to French citizens. The fine comes after the CNIL last year ordered Clearview to cease data collection and delete its existing database, instructions the company reportedly ignored. This is Clearview’s third breach of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) pertaining to France. Continue reading France Sanctions Clearview AI €20M for Violating GDPR Rules

U.S. Cities Are Luring Silicon Valley Firms and Tech Workers

Tech workers are adjusting to new hiring conditions, with the larger firms in traditional digital power corridors said to be cutting back while diverse cities step-up to attract new businesses that can boost the local economy. Hiring freezes and layoffs among larger tech firms such as Apple, Netflix and Twitter are meant to mitigate fear of a looming recession. Into the void comes an increasingly aggressive phalanx of cities and towns across the U.S. providing grants and other perks to attract companies. The idea is businesses bring a tax base and staff can work remotely or take advantage of cost savings by relocating to more affordable markets. Continue reading U.S. Cities Are Luring Silicon Valley Firms and Tech Workers

Massachusetts Court Objects to Gig Worker Ballot Measure

A proposed Massachusetts ballot initiative designating gig drivers as independent contractors was nixed by a state court that deemed it an attempt to avoid liability by companies like Uber and Lyft in the event of accident or crime. The Tuesday ruling effectively halted a $17.8 million campaign in support of a bill the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court said violates the State Constitution, with hidden language excepting drivers from being “an employee or agent” of a gig company. The move is the latest in a series of skirmishes between gig companies and local governments.  Continue reading Massachusetts Court Objects to Gig Worker Ballot Measure

Senate Cryptocurrency Bill Could Be a Victory for Blockchain

A debate as to whether cryptocurrencies are more like commodities than securities is playing out in Washington, with Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) introducing legislation to regulate them like commodities. If passed, the bill would put digital currency under the regulatory purview of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) rather than the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a win for the crypto sector, which prefers the smaller agency. SEC chair Gary Gensler takes the position that digital assets are akin to publicly traded stock and should be regulated by the SEC.
Continue reading Senate Cryptocurrency Bill Could Be a Victory for Blockchain

New York State Legislature Passes Broad Right to Repair Law

The New York state legislature has passed the nation’s most comprehensive “right to repair” bill, the Digital Fair Repair Act. The DFRA requires original equipment manufacturers to make available to independent repair providers and consumers existing diagnostic and repair information and tools for digital electronic parts and equipment. The measure, which awaits Governor Kathy Hochul’s signature, affects all manufacturers selling digital products in New York state. “Where before, manufacturers could push consumers to use manufacturer-authorized shops, now they’ll have to compete,” said indie repair chain iFixit. Continue reading New York State Legislature Passes Broad Right to Repair Law

Mintlify Leverages AI to Auto-Generate Code Documentation

A seed round by Ithaca, New York-based software firm Mintlify has raised $2.8 million led by Bain Capital Ventures. The startup uses artificial intelligence to automate software documentation. CEO and co-founder Han Wang says the funds will go to product development and hiring that will increase the company’s small staff. Mintify was launched in 2021 by Wang and Hahnbee Lee, a pair of software engineers who were driven to address a pressing industry need: quality documentation. A 2017 survey by GitHub found that 93 percent of developers listed incomplete or outdated documentation as an industry-wide problem. Continue reading Mintlify Leverages AI to Auto-Generate Code Documentation

Social Media Rapid Response Tested in the Wake of Violence

In the wake of criticism for its response time with regard to takedowns of videos of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, Meta Platforms has released metrics that show it removed 21.7 million pieces of violent or incitement content from Facebook in Q1 2022, nearly doubling the number from the previous quarter. The Buffalo gunman used a helmet-mounted camera to live-stream his killing spree to Twitch, owned by Amazon, and recordings circulated on platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Google’s YouTube. Platforms were challenged by the speed of downloads and reposts even after the footage was removed. Continue reading Social Media Rapid Response Tested in the Wake of Violence

Site Blocking Gaining Steam Globally as Anti-Piracy Measure

A U.S. district judge in New York has established a new front in the anti-piracy war, ruling that a long list of domestic ISPs must block three Israeli websites found to be in violation of copyright law. Judge Katherine Polk Failla ordered the ISPs to block the sites Israeli-TV.com, Israel.tv and Sdarot.tv, and also any domains known to be “used in the future … by any technological means available.” Also affected are web hosting service providers, web designers, domain registrars and advertising companies, now banned from doing business with the sites. Continue reading Site Blocking Gaining Steam Globally as Anti-Piracy Measure

Amazon Workers’ Labor Victory Points to New Union Playbook

The strategy that successfully unionized Amazon workers on New York’s Staten Island has energized worker groups around the nation, including employees at other Amazon warehouses who are expected to try and follow suit. Most immediately, a smaller warehouse in Staten Island has a union vote scheduled for the end of the month, while a past election in Bessemer, Alabama sees employees contesting the ballots of a failed initial effort. Other companies are also facing a restless workforce that has emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic with new focus and tactics. Continue reading Amazon Workers’ Labor Victory Points to New Union Playbook

MoviePass Service Plans to Be Back in Operation by Summer

Three months after MoviePass co-founder Stacy Spikes shared hopes to resurrect his subscription movie service, shuttered late 2019, the executive held a New York press conference to announce his summer reboot. “A lot of people lost money. A lot of people lost trust,” Spikes told reporters, explaining that he plans to run MoviePass 2.0 like a co-op, with top-level stakeholders eligible to hold partial ownership and a lifetime subscription. “Moviegoing is not going anywhere. Cinema is not going anywhere,” Spikes said during last week’s press event at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater. Continue reading MoviePass Service Plans to Be Back in Operation by Summer

Feds Mine Crypto Trail and Find $3.6 Billion in Stolen Bitcoin

Led by the IRS Criminal Investigation branch, federal agents seized more than $3.6 billion in stolen Bitcoin last week, resulting in its largest seizure ever. Tracking the 119,754 Bitcoin stolen in 2016 from Hong Kong’s Bitfinex currency exchange across several continents, thorough the dark web and many transfer schemes was an amazing feat that says as much about the skill of U.S. law enforcement as it does the breadcrumb trails left by cryptocurrency. Engineered to be traceable (some say transparent), blockchain does offer a degree of anonymity that makes it attractive to crime. Continue reading Feds Mine Crypto Trail and Find $3.6 Billion in Stolen Bitcoin

Meta Quest VR Unit Faces Antitrust Probe by FTC and States

In the wake of a last week’s ruling that the Federal Trade Commission can prosecute its antitrust suit against Meta Platforms, it is now reported that the FTC and multiple state attorneys general are scrutinizing the company’s virtual reality unit — formerly known as Oculus Quest but renamed Meta Quest — for potential anti-competitive practices. New York, North Carolina and Tennessee are among the states that, in addition to the FTC, are said to be investigating whether the Meta Quest app store discriminates against app developers whose goods compete against Meta’s own products. Continue reading Meta Quest VR Unit Faces Antitrust Probe by FTC and States

Global Startups Raised $621 Billion in 2021, Breaking Record

Startups enjoyed record venture capital funding last year, raising $621 billion globally and seeding several new tech hubs around the world, although Silicon Valley remains ground zero, according to research firm CB Insights. The U.S. accounted for roughly half of the funding raised globally, with stateside startups raising roughly $311 billion. Bootstrappers in Silicon Valley and New York retained the leading positions in terms of most money raised and number of deals completed, says CBI. Early-stage funding accounted for 63 percent of Philadelphia’s startup deals. Los Angeles and Dallas also grew early stage numbers, to 62 and 55 percent respectively. Continue reading Global Startups Raised $621 Billion in 2021, Breaking Record