Lyft will run ‘continuous’ background checks on its drivers


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A lot can happen in a year, so it’s probably wise that Lyft will no longer rely solely on annual background checks for its drivers. The ride-sharing company will now run daily criminal monitoring of its active drivers and will receive immediate notification of any disqualifying criminal convictions. Lyft will also keep a closer eye on identity fraud and will require drivers to carry both a license and an up-to-date photo of their face.

Drivers will still have to pass Lyft’s annual background checks, which search both local and national systems. And according to the company, drivers can be disqualified for violent crimes, sexual offenses and other felonies. Drivers are also prohibited if they have one major or more than three minor driving violations in the past three years, or if they have a DUI or drug-related violation in the last seven years.

While more frequent background checks make sense, the move could be seen as overdue. Two years ago, more than 8,000 Uber and Lyft drivers failed state-run background checks in Massachusetts, and Uber began testing its own continuous background checks last year. Still, it’s an improvement over some of the company’s past attempts to enhance safety, like its Lyft profiles.

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UK will track thousands of criminals with GPS tags


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It’s not a novel idea to make criminals wear GPS bracelets, but they could soon be relatively commonplace in the UK. The country’s government plans to use them for around-the-clock monitoring of criminals across England and Wales by the summer, with a handful of regions already putting them to use. They’ll be used to both track behavior when out of prison (say, to ensure offenders attend rehab) and enforce geographic limits like restraining orders.

The government estimated that roughly 4,000 people will receive GPS tags each year, but no more than 1,000 people will wear tags at any given time.

As with earlier uses, there are ethical advantages and drawbacks. This could avoid or reduce prison sentences for minor offenses, and more effectively monitor serious criminals when allowed to reenter society. The current electronic tags can indicate if a wearer is present at a given building, but it’s not much use outside of those narrow conditions. However, it still amounts to 24/7 location tracking for people who, in some cases, committed only non-violent crimes. While convicts aren’t about to earn much sympathy, there’s little doubt that they’re losing a lot of privacy.

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The Heroes of This Week's Best New Comics Are Complicated Dads

Atomic Robo mentoring a young robot friend.
Image: Scott Wegener, Shannon Murphy (IDW Publishing)

Whether you’re a sentient, technologically-advanced robot designed by Nikola Tesla or a street-level criminal with a knack for getting thrown in the pokey, raising children is a difficult task. And while it can be rewarding, it’s much more often an emotionally and financially draining endeavor.

The heroes of this week’s best new comics are at a point in their lives where they’ve become responsible for nurturing the next generation of young minds who are going to inherit the Earth and, truth be told, they’re both kind of nailing the whole parenting thing. Just not exactly in the ways they anticipated.

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A pawn shop owner realizing why Ricky is trying to sell a stolen necklace.
Image: Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips (Image Comics)

Criminal

Despite his street name, all Teeg Lawless really wants at this point in his life is a modicum of peace and tranquility after spending years running with mobsters, pulling off heists, and generally living on the wrong side of the law. Old habits die hard for Lawless, and even though he’s trying to get on the up and up, Image Comics’ Criminal—from co-creators Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips—opens with the man behind bars in a local jail waiting for someone…anyone…to bail him out.

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Lawless’ salvation comes in the form of his misguided young son Ricky, who, taking after his father, reasons that he can get away with robbing an elderly neighbor he knows to be in possession of valuable jewelry in order to get his hands on bail money. But Ricky’s actions come with consequences that neither he nor his father are prepared to handle, and force Lawless to fall back on his old ways in order to make sure that he can keep his family safe from retaliation. (Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Jacob Phillips, Image Comics)

Atomic Robo making sure Bernard is up to the task at hand.
Image: Scott Wegener, Shannon Murphy (IDW Publishing)

Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era

Atomic Robo’s seen a lot over his centuries-long lifetime of learning about and experimenting with the forces of nature that define the world. He’s putting the whole of his vast knowledge to good use in IDW’s Atomic Robo: Dawn of a New Era by passing it along to the next generation of sentient, mechanized intelligence.

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For now, life’s mostly quiet for Atomic Robo and the newest young recruits at the Tesladyne Institute, but unbeknownst to everyone else within the organization who believe Robo’s merely tinkering with a new project in his private lab, he’s actually in the process of building what might be his greatest, most significant achievement yet. (Brian Clevinger, Scott Wegener, Shannon Murphy, IDW Publishing)


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Netflix's 'Criminal' series will never leave the interrogation room


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Netflix is still determined to show that it doesn’t have to conform to TV tropes. The company has ordered a police procedural, Criminal, with more than a few hooks. Most notably, it’s set entirely inside police interrogation rooms — it’s all about the “intense mental conflict” between officers and suspects. It’s not The Usual Suspects, but it’s hard to completely avoid comparisons.

On top of this, the 12-episode run will be a decidedly international affair. While the show will be run by two veterans of the British media landscape (Killing Eve‘s George Kay and Endeavour‘s Jim Field Smith), the show will be set in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, with appropriate producers and writers for each three-episode stint for a given nationality. Each episode will be “unique,” Netflix added.

There’s no mention of when Criminal might premiere or who might star in the production, but it promises to stand out even compared to other Netflix shows. Netflix regularly caters to a global audience and is free to experiment with formats (such as a miniseries like Maniac), but Criminal takes those concepts to their logical conclusion. It’s a show that would only really make sense for a large, international streaming service that can afford to take risks.

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DOJ wants access to suspect's encrypted Facebook Messenger chats


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The US government wants Facebook to help break Messenger’s encryption to get access to a suspect’s voice conversations in a criminal case, sources told Reuters. The case, an investigation of the MS-13 gang, is under seal so filings aren’t publicly available. But the sources stated that Facebook has contested the DOJ’s demand, and may be held in contempt of court for refusing.

This is in keeping with the tech industry’s consistent resistance to government requests for access to encrypted data. Apple has been subject to many of these in the last few years, and its CEO Tim Cook has criticized Facebook for its lax privacy standards. Nevertheless, the social network finally introduced optional end-to-end encryption for Messenger conversations in October 2016, and that seems to be what the DOJ wants Facebook’s help breaking in to.

The DOJ has been pushing harder for tech giants to grant access to their consumer devices, but it’s just as happy to ask companies running messenger apps for the same. While governments around the world have frequently demanded Facebook’s help breaking in to WhatsApp in the past, now that Messenger is encrypted, it may get more of those requests — assuming users remember to turn on encryption before starting a conversation they want to keep private.

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