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San Diego Repeals Controversial COVID Vaccine Mandate for City Workers

The San Diego Union-Tribune reported:

San Diego has repealed a controversial COVID-19 vaccine mandate for city workers that had led to multiple lawsuits, the firings of 14 employees and resignations by more than 130 police officers.

City officials said drops in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in recent months prompted the repeal, which the City Council approved unanimously Tuesday.

The council simultaneously voted to lift the city’s COVID-19 state of emergency declaration next month, following a similar move by the state that Gov. Gavin Newsom announced in October. Both the city and state emergency declarations will expire on Feb. 28.

Because the council must approve the repeal of the vaccine mandate a second time at a subsequent meeting, it won’t officially expire until March 9 — 30 days after the second vote.

WEF Hears About Technology That Allows Your Thoughts to Be Monitored

Reclaim the Net reported:

The annual World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering has always been a testing ground for some bizarre ideas, which nonetheless serve a purpose: to introduce, and if possible normalize all kinds of mass surveillance and sometimes extremely privacy-invasive technologies.

And monitoring people’s brain activity, including via implants — surely, it doesn’t get much more invasive than that. Yet this was one of the technologies presented at an event in Davos this year by Duke University Professor Nita Farahany.

“Decoding complex thought,” is already possible, Farahany said during her “Ready for Brain Transparency?” talk at the WEF summit last week. And the tech now is also able to reveal the degree of stress somebody is experiencing, as well as what they are paying attention to. So, the goal is to know what/how a person is feeling, what they are thinking, and what draws their interest.

According to the professor, all the ingredients are here — all that’s needed is massive uptake, and eventually a shift from today’s devices that accomplish it — wearables — towards “implanted (brain) technology.”

Vaccine Passport Prohibition Bill Moves Forward in Its Second Year

KSL TV reported:

On Tuesday afternoon, HB131, the vaccine passport prohibition bill, received a favorable recommendation from the House Business and Labor Committee with a 10 to 2 vote. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Walt Brooks, said in the committee hearing that during the COVID-19 pandemic, HIPAA laws were becoming blurred, and he would like to un-blur them.

“All of a sudden, those (HIPAA) laws became all gray and fuzzy, and no one cared anymore,” Brooks said. “This bill basically takes us back to that time, re-brightens those lines that what is protective health information is just that, your private protected health information.”

“The thing I am trying to address is before we had COVID, what was the standard of business, and how did we operate? And this goes and reminds us of the laws that are already in action. We did not ask anyone for their papers, and no one would even think of that,” Brooks said.

All public commenters agreed with Brooks’s views, as no one spoke against the bill, with most being business owners. Some said they don’t want to be asking customers for vaccine information, while others cited the U.S. and Utah constitutions with the legality of doing so.

Are Digital Wallets Safe? Here’s What to Know as the Battle Between Big Banks and Apple Pay Heats Up

CNBC reported:

In the face of inflation, rising interest rates and slowing economic growth, there’s more competition than ever for consumers’ cash — and even how their purchases are made. Now, several of the large banks behind Zelle are teaming up to create their own digital wallet in a bid to compete with Apple Pay and PayPal, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal.

The move is seen as an effort to slow Apple’s push into consumer financial services, marked by the recent introduction of Apple Pay Later, as well as an interest-bearing savings account administered by Goldman Sachs.

During the pandemic, shoppers showed a growing preference for cashless transactions and still do: Peer-to-peer payment apps — known as P2P — such as Zelle and PayPal’s Venmo, which let users store their banking information on their smartphone, have exploded in popularity.

But it is not without risk. Users are vulnerable to fraud or scams or can lose money if they accidentally send a payment to the wrong person, a Consumer Reports analysis found.

Florida Eyes Banning TikTok at State Universities

Politico reported:

University officials in Florida are considering a possible ban on TikTok that could block students from using the popular application on 12 campuses across the state.

Members on the Board of Governors over state universities, meeting Tuesday in Miami, expressed support for creating a system-wide policy outlawing the app. The change could be introduced in the next two months with scrutiny mounting towards the Beijing-based company.

Several schools across the country have already blocked TikTok from their networks, including the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oklahoma.

JP Morgan Under Senate Fire for Partnership With TikTok Parent ByteDance

Forbes reported:

JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon is under fire from a top Senator who is raising alarms about the biggest bank in the U.S. developing payments technology for TikTok’s Chinese parent ByteDance — a partnership first reported by Forbes.

“It is outrageous that JPMorgan Chase would elect to join ByteDance in a partnership geared toward broadening and deepening the company’s, and as a result, the CCP’s, access to countless volumes of user data,” Senator Marco Rubio, the top Republican on the powerful Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote to the JP Morgan Chairman this month

“Assisting online companies to build out real-time payments systems, centralize banking structures and streamline access to millions of users’ financial information is no doubt lucrative,” he said in the letter. “However, by partnering with ByteDance to develop a treasure trove of private data, including that of millions of Americans, JPMorgan Chase has effectively handed the combination to the vault to the CCP.”

Short of the passage of a national security deal by CFIUS or a blanket ban on TikTok in the U.S., lawmakers may go after companies and institutions instead — and JP Morgan is not the only one. ESPN is under pressure from a bipartisan duo in Congress to end a partnership with TikTok, and a House Republican this month introduced legislation that would yank federal funding to colleges in Texas that don’t ban TikTok on their campuses.

Apple Beefs Up Smartphone Services in ‘Silent War’ Against Google

Ars Technica reported:

Apple is taking steps to separate its mobile operating system from features offered by Google parent Alphabet, making advances around maps, search and advertising that have created a collision course between the Big Tech companies.

The two Silicon Valley giants have been rivals in the smartphone market since Google acquired and popularized the Android operating system in the 2000s.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs called Android “a stolen product” that mimicked Apple’s iOS mobile software, then declared “thermonuclear war” on Google, ousting the search company’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt from the Apple board of directors in 2009. While the rivalry has been less noisy since then, two former Apple engineers said the iPhone maker has held a “grudge” against Google.

One of these people said Apple is still engaged in a “silent war” against its arch-rival. It is doing so by developing features that could allow the iPhone maker to further separate its products from services offered by Google. Apple did not respond to requests for comment.