13 TechCrunch stories you don’t want to miss this week

TechCrunch is gearing up for the Disrupt NY Hackathon and conference. This week, the battle between Brazilian authorities and WhatsApp continued, Tesla shared details about how effective its bioweapon mode is and Uber got hit with another lawsuit. Here are the stories you don’t want to miss.

1. Facebook’s messaging app WhatsApp was banned in Brazil again. A Brazilian judge ordered telecom providers in the country to block WhatsApp in a dispute over access to encrypted chat records related to a drug investigation. WhatsApp argued that it cannot access the chats in an unencrypted form and therefore cannot provide the required records to the court. Despite the judge’s denial of an appeal, the ban was lifted and access to WhatsApp was restored in Brazil roughly 24 hours later.

2. Connie Loizos wrote about how Uber’s employees are handcuffed to the company. Startup employees have to exercise their options within 90 days of leaving a company or else lose them and, at Uber, that cost is simply too high.

3. Tesla shared details about how effective its particulate filters are. They are so good, not only do they clean up the air inside the car, they make the world outside the car cleaner, too. This could be the company’s way into markets with poor air quality, like China and India. We see you, Tesla.

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4. Uber is facing a nationwide class-action lawsuit that pertains to all current and former Uber drivers in the U.S., excluding California and Massachusetts. The suit asks the court to classify Uber divers as employees rather than independent contractors, “recover unpaid overtime wages and compensation,” reimburse expenses, and pay the tips that “were earned but stolen by Uber or were lost” due to Uber’s communications and policies. Uber also introduced Uber Offers, a program that allows you to use your Uber-linked credit card at select merchants to get money off rides.

5. Quantum computing is still very much in the early research stage, but IBM is hoping to accelerate the progress by giving researchers access to a 5-qubit quantum computer it’s calling IBM Quantum Experience.

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6. Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright has revealed himself to be Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto. They say the story does not add up, given that his “proof” could simply be an old signature signed by Satoshi and what was previously known about how the Bitcoin inventor operated in the past. Wright has previously been named as Satoshi but denied it at the time.

7. Josh Constine wrote about the dehumanization of Facebook Messenger, and how spammy chatbots could soon impersonalize the messaging experience. Facebook’s gamble to win the future of chat could create diverging interests from its user base, and we could just end up going back to good old SMS to talk to our friends.

8. Crunch Network contributor Jon Stokes wrote about why the NRA hates smart guns so much.

9. Last week Oracle bought Textura for $663 million, giving the database giant a vertical construction solution in the cloud. This week, it bought Opower for $532 million, giving it a vertical utilities cloud solution. We’re beginning to see a pattern, here.

10. Quizlet, the makers of popular web and mobile study tools and an edtech success story company, hired a new CEO, Matt Glotzbach, the former VP of product management at YouTube.

11. GoPro released some pretty incredible footage from a suborbital rocket launch that climbed to 396,405 feet.

screenshot from GoPro

12. Crunch Network contributor Matt Heiman wrote that Android commands over 80 percent of the mobile OS market share globally. But you wouldn’t know it here in Silicon Valley — almost everyone has an iPhone. As the consumer technology landscape evolves over the next five years however, there are a number of reasons to believe that Android could take an even greater share and become the platform of choice.

13. We took a closer look at Samsung’s connected Family Hub Refrigerator.