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Security: Daily Crunch: FDA clears procedure for N95 mask decontamination

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The FDA approves a new procedure that could allow healthcare workers to reuse N95 respirator masks, Microsoft divests from a facial recognition startup and Saudi spies have been taking advantage of a network security flaw. Here’s your Daily Crunch for March 30, 2020.

1. FDA grants emergency authorization to system that decontaminates N95 respirator masks for reuse

Research, development and lab management company Battelle has received special emergency authorization from the U.S. healthcare regulator to put into use a system it developed to decontaminate used N95 respirator masks using concentrated hydrogen peroxide.

The system is able to turn single use respirators into masks that can be used up to 20 times, with a 2.5-hour decontamination process between each use. And it’s already in operation at Battelle’s Ohio facility, with a decontamination capacity of up to 80,000 masks per day.

2. Divesting from one facial recognition startup, Microsoft ends outside investments in the tech

Microsoft’s decision to withdraw its investment from AnyVision, an Israeli company developing facial recognition software, came as a result of an investigation into reports that AnyVision’s technology was being used by the Israeli government to surveil residents in the West Bank.

3. Saudi spies tracked phones using flaws the FCC failed to fix for years

Lawmakers and security experts have long warned of security flaws in the underbelly of the world’s cell networks. Now a whistleblower says the Saudi government is exploiting those flaws to track its citizens across the U.S. as part of a “systematic” surveillance campaign.

4. Test and trace with Apple and Google

Jon Evans looks at what Apple and Google can learn from Singapore, where they use a “TraceTogether” app. The app uses Bluetooth to track nearby phones (without location tracking), keeps local logs of those contacts, and only uploads them to the Ministry of Health when the user chooses to do — presumably after a diagnosis — so those contacts can be alerted.

5. Attract, engage and retain employees in the new remote-work era

Having the right technology in place to sustain work-from-home practices is more important now than ever before. There are four steps that employers can take to successfully integrate and adapt successful virtual hiring technologies into their business continuity plans. (Extra Crunch membership required.)

6. Online tutoring marketplace Preply banks $10M to fuel growth in North America, Europe

The startup said it has seen a record number of daily hours booked on its platform this past week. It also reports a spike in the number of tutors registering in markets including the U.S., U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Spain — which are among the regions where schools have been closed as a coronavirus response measure.

7. This week’s TechCrunch podcasts

The latest full-length Equity episode discusses Stripe’s investment into login/checkout startup Fast, while the Monday news recap covers three funding rounds and a downturn. Meanwhile, Original Content reviews Hulu’s star-studded “Little Fires Everywhere” and the bonkers Netflix documentary “Tiger King.”

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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