US Government asks Australia to scrap proposed laws to make Facebook, Google pay for news



The US has asked Australia to scrap proposed laws that would make it the first country in the world to force Facebook and Google to pay for news sourced from local media outlets.

In a submission asking the Government to “suspend” the plans, assistant US trade representatives Daniel Bahar and Karl Ehlers suggested Australia instead “further study the markets, and if appropriate, develop a voluntary code”.

Under the law, which has broad political support and is currently before a Senate committee, Google and Facebook could be forced into arbitration to pay for local news if a commercial agreement on payments to Australian media cannot be reached.

The planned mandatory bargaining code comes after years of complaints from traditional media outlets that social media platforms benefit from the hard work of journalists without paying for it.

The legislation was introduced to Parliament in December.

Google and Facebook continue to argue that media organisations benefit from referrals and clicks through to their websites.

Facebook has threatened to remove Australians’ ability to post news content to its platforms if the Federal Government does not back down.

The US Government has now also stepped in to pressure Australia to step back from its plans.

A document with the letterhead of the Executive Office of the President said: “The US Government is concerned that an attempt, through legislation, to regulate the competitive positions of specific players … to the clear detriment of two US firms may result in harmful outcomes.”

Such a move could also “raise concerns with respect to Australia’s international trade obligations”, it said.

The Australian Government announced the legislation last month after an investigation found the tech giants held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

In response, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said in a statement that the Government was not backing down and was “committed to proceeding with a mandatory code” that would address “the bargaining power imbalances with digital platforms and media companies”.

The code followed an 18-month review by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims and “extensive consultation” that included the views of both Google and Facebook, Mr Frydenberg said.

The ACCC inquiry found that for every $100 spent on online advertising, $53 went to Google, $28 to Facebook and $19 to other media companies.

Google recently decided to hide some Australian news sites from its search results in a move that was interpreted as a response to the proposed laws.

Changes to Google’s search algorithm affected a small percentage of users and buried links to some commercial news sites.

A Google spokesperson said it was an “experiment” that happened “every year”.

Google would not say whether it was also burying links to the ABC and SBS, which are included alongside commercial media in the proposed code to make platforms pay for content.

The ACCC was approached for comment.

Reuters/ABC

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Facebook, Google and Microsoft freeze PAC contributions in the wake of Capitol siege


Facebook is reportedly reassessing its political spending practices after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.


Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Following the violence on Capitol Hill last week, Facebook has suspended contributions from its political action committee. And it’s not alone among tech companies.

“Following last week’s awful violence in DC, we are pausing all of our PAC contributions for at least the current quarter, while we review our policies,” Facebook spokesperson Daniel Roberts told CNET. Roberts noted that this doesn’t apply to political spending at large.

Google has also frozen political contributions following the attack. A spokesperson for the tech giant said it’s frozen all NetPAC political contributions and is reviewing its policies. 

AT&T is also evaluating its policies about political contributions.

“Employees on our Federal PAC Board convened a call today and decided to suspend contributions to members of Congress who voted to object to the certification of Electoral College votes last week,” the network carrier told CNET.

Short-term home rental site Airbnb also said it’s withholding financial support from those politicians who voted against the certification of the presidential election results. “Airbnb strongly condemns last week’s attack on the US Capitol and the efforts to undermine our democratic process,” the company said in a statement. Airbnb added that it “will continue to uphold our community policies by banning violent hate group members when we learn of such memberships.”

Axios reported earlier that Microsoft is taking similar steps. Historically, tech PACs have donated to both Democrats and Republicans. 

“Microsoft’s political action committee decided last Friday that it will not make any political donations until after it assesses the implications of last week’s events,” a company spokesperson told CNET in an email. “The PAC regularly pauses its donations in the first quarter of a new Congress, but it will take additional steps this year to consider these recent events and consult with employees.”

Social media companies have  cracked down on President Donald Trump after a mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6. Among the actions taken: Facebook blocked Trump indefinitely, and Twitter banned his account permanently. Last year, Twitter closed its PAC because of its belief that “political influence should be earned, not bought.” The company’s PAC hasn’t made any donations to candidates since 2018 and it donated its remaining funds to support nonpartisan voter registration activities.



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Some lending apps thrive on India’s Google Play despite policy violations


MUMBAI: At least 10 Indian lending apps on Google’s Play Store, which have been downloaded millions of times, breached Google rules on loan repayment lengths aimed at protecting vulnerable borrowers, according to a Reuters review of such services and more than a dozen users.

Four apps were taken down from the Play Store – where the vast majority of Indians download phone apps – after Reuters flagged to Google that they were violating its ban on offering personal loans requiring full repayment in 60 days or less.

Three of these apps – 10MinuteLoan, Ex-Money and Extra Mudra – didn’t return calls and emails seeking comment.

The fourth app, StuCred, was allowed back on the Google Play store on Jan 7 after it removed the offer of a 30-day loan. It denied engaging in any unscrupulous practices.

At least six other apps remain available at the store that offer loan repayment lengths, or tenures, some as low as seven days, according to 15 borrowers and screenshots of loan details from all six apps shared with Reuters. 

Some of these apps apply steep processing fees, as high as 2,000 rupees (US$27) on loans of less than 10,000 rupees with tenures of 30 days or under, according to the 15 borrowers. Together with other charges including one-off registration costs, borrowers can pay, in real terms, interest rates as high as 60 per cent per week, their loan details show.

By comparison, Indian banks typically offer personal loans with annual interest rates of 10-20 per cent, and they usually do not have to be repaid in full for at least a year.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the banking regulator, did not respond to a request for comment about whether it planned to step up supervisory action. In December it issued a public notice about lending apps, warning some engaged in “unscrupulous activities”, such as charging excessive interest rates and fees.

Google, which dominates India’s app market with more than 98 per cent of smartphones using its Android platform, said its policies were “continuously updated in response to new and emerging threats and bad actors”.

“We take action on apps that are flagged to us by users and regulatory bodies,” it added.

When contacted by Reuters, the apps offering short tenures either denied wrongdoing or did not respond.

The apps, many of which act as intermediaries connecting borrowers and lending institutions, are not breaking the law as the RBI has no rules covering minimum loan tenures. The RBI also does not oversee intermediaries.

The Indian finance ministry and information technology ministry did not respond to requests for comments on whether they planned to increase scrutiny of these apps.

Some consumer campaigners say short-term, or payday, loans can lead to borrowers defaulting and running up spiralling costs.

“Predatory loan apps with high processing fees, short tenures and steep penalty charges on default are leading people into a debt trap,” said Pravin Kalaiselvan, who heads a digital rights group, Save Them India Foundation.

Google introduced its own global policy for its platform in 2019 “to protect users from harmful or deceitful practices”.

The rise of smartphones and affordable mobile internet in India has seen a proliferation of hundreds of personal lending apps in recent years. Campaign groups say rapid advances in technology have outpaced authorities and are calling for regulations to be introduced regarding loan tenures and fees.

“There are no clear norms on lending apps in India. Right now they fall in a grey zone,” said Nikhil Pahwa, a digital rights activist and editor of MediaNama, a Delhi-based publication on technology policy.

“UNILATERALLY DECIDED”

The four apps found to have breached Google’s repayment length policy – 10MinuteLoan, Ex-Money, StuCred and Extra Mudra – were advertising loan tenures of 30 days on their apps and had been downloaded a total of at least 1.5 million times.

Reuters flagged those apps to Google on Dec 18 and they were taken down from the Play Store in India within four days.

In response to a Reuters query about whether it had offered loans that required full repayment in 60 days or less, StuCred said: “Google has unilaterally decided that fintech apps cannot be on their apps store which have repayments under 30 days, even though no law relating to the same has been passed that would require such action on their (Google’s) part.”

Several other apps say on their Play Store listings that the minimum repayment length they offer is over three months, but in reality their tenures often range between seven and 15 days, according to the 15 borrowers and their screenshots.

Those apps include CashBean, Moneed, iCredit, CashKey, RupeeFly and RupeePlus, which have been downloaded a total of nearly 12 million times.

Moneed said it adhered to RBI rules and that any company that did not do so should not be allowed to do business. In response to a Reuters query about whether it had offered loans that required full repayment in 60 days or less, it said: “We support 90 days repayment for the loan cycle.”

CashBean also said it followed RBI guidelines. “Our customer-care lines are open for all our borrowers at all times,” it added. It did not directly address a question on whether it offered loan tenures of 60 days or less.

CashKey, iCredit, RupeeFly and RupeePlus did not respond to emails seeking comment and were not reachable by phone.

HARASSMENT INVESTIGATIONS

The lending app industry has separately attracted the scrutiny of police who say they are investigating dozens of apps following the suicides of at least two borrowers in the past month after they and their families were allegedly harassed by debt-recovery agents.

The police haven’t disclosed the identities of the those under investigation.

Debt-recovery harassment is prohibited under RBI rules which say collection agents cannot harass borrowers by “persistently bothering” them, or by contacting their family or acquaintances.  

The Reuters review of 50 popular lending apps available on Google Play found that nearly all of them require borrowers to give them permission to access their phone contacts.

Mahesh Dommati, a 28-year-old tech worker in Hyderabad who lost his job during the COVID-19 lockdown, was unable to repay the 6,000 rupee loan he had taken out from an app called Slice. He said recovery agents used his contact list to repeatedly call his family and friends, demanding they pay on his behalf.

Slice said it abided by RBI rules and did not engage in harassment.

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Some lending apps thrive on India’s Google Play despite policy violations


MUMBAI: At least 10 Indian lending apps on Google’s Play Store, which have been downloaded millions of times, breached Google rules on loan repayment lengths aimed at protecting vulnerable borrowers, according to a Reuters review of such services and more than a dozen users.

Four apps were taken down from the Play Store – where the vast majority of Indians download phone apps – after Reuters flagged to Google that they were violating its ban on offering personal loans requiring full repayment in 60 days or less.

Three of these apps – 10MinuteLoan, Ex-Money and Extra Mudra – didn’t return calls and emails seeking comment.

The fourth app, StuCred, was allowed back on the Google Play store on Jan 7 after it removed the offer of a 30-day loan. It denied engaging in any unscrupulous practices.

At least six other apps remain available at the store that offer loan repayment lengths, or tenures, some as low as seven days, according to 15 borrowers and screenshots of loan details from all six apps shared with Reuters. 

Some of these apps apply steep processing fees, as high as 2,000 rupees (US$27) on loans of less than 10,000 rupees with tenures of 30 days or under, according to the 15 borrowers. Together with other charges including one-off registration costs, borrowers can pay, in real terms, interest rates as high as 60 per cent per week, their loan details show.

By comparison, Indian banks typically offer personal loans with annual interest rates of 10-20 per cent, and they usually do not have to be repaid in full for at least a year.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the banking regulator, did not respond to a request for comment about whether it planned to step up supervisory action. In December it issued a public notice about lending apps, warning some engaged in “unscrupulous activities”, such as charging excessive interest rates and fees.

Google, which dominates India’s app market with more than 98 per cent of smartphones using its Android platform, said its policies were “continuously updated in response to new and emerging threats and bad actors”.

“We take action on apps that are flagged to us by users and regulatory bodies,” it added.

When contacted by Reuters, the apps offering short tenures either denied wrongdoing or did not respond.

The apps, many of which act as intermediaries connecting borrowers and lending institutions, are not breaking the law as the RBI has no rules covering minimum loan tenures. The RBI also does not oversee intermediaries.

The Indian finance ministry and information technology ministry did not respond to requests for comments on whether they planned to increase scrutiny of these apps.

Some consumer campaigners say short-term, or payday, loans can lead to borrowers defaulting and running up spiralling costs.

“Predatory loan apps with high processing fees, short tenures and steep penalty charges on default are leading people into a debt trap,” said Pravin Kalaiselvan, who heads a digital rights group, Save Them India Foundation.

Google introduced its own global policy for its platform in 2019 “to protect users from harmful or deceitful practices”.

The rise of smartphones and affordable mobile internet in India has seen a proliferation of hundreds of personal lending apps in recent years. Campaign groups say rapid advances in technology have outpaced authorities and are calling for regulations to be introduced regarding loan tenures and fees.

“There are no clear norms on lending apps in India. Right now they fall in a grey zone,” said Nikhil Pahwa, a digital rights activist and editor of MediaNama, a Delhi-based publication on technology policy.

“UNILATERALLY DECIDED”

The four apps found to have breached Google’s repayment length policy – 10MinuteLoan, Ex-Money, StuCred and Extra Mudra – were advertising loan tenures of 30 days on their apps and had been downloaded a total of at least 1.5 million times.

Reuters flagged those apps to Google on Dec 18 and they were taken down from the Play Store in India within four days.

In response to a Reuters query about whether it had offered loans that required full repayment in 60 days or less, StuCred said: “Google has unilaterally decided that fintech apps cannot be on their apps store which have repayments under 30 days, even though no law relating to the same has been passed that would require such action on their (Google’s) part.”

Several other apps say on their Play Store listings that the minimum repayment length they offer is over three months, but in reality their tenures often range between seven and 15 days, according to the 15 borrowers and their screenshots.

Those apps include CashBean, Moneed, iCredit, CashKey, RupeeFly and RupeePlus, which have been downloaded a total of nearly 12 million times.

Moneed said it adhered to RBI rules and that any company that did not do so should not be allowed to do business. In response to a Reuters query about whether it had offered loans that required full repayment in 60 days or less, it said: “We support 90 days repayment for the loan cycle.”

CashBean also said it followed RBI guidelines. “Our customer-care lines are open for all our borrowers at all times,” it added. It did not directly address a question on whether it offered loan tenures of 60 days or less.

CashKey, iCredit, RupeeFly and RupeePlus did not respond to emails seeking comment and were not reachable by phone.

HARASSMENT INVESTIGATIONS

The lending app industry has separately attracted the scrutiny of police who say they are investigating dozens of apps following the suicides of at least two borrowers in the past month after they and their families were allegedly harassed by debt-recovery agents.

The police haven’t disclosed the identities of the those under investigation.

Debt-recovery harassment is prohibited under RBI rules which say collection agents cannot harass borrowers by “persistently bothering” them, or by contacting their family or acquaintances.  

The Reuters review of 50 popular lending apps available on Google Play found that nearly all of them require borrowers to give them permission to access their phone contacts.

Mahesh Dommati, a 28-year-old tech worker in Hyderabad who lost his job during the COVID-19 lockdown, was unable to repay the 6,000 rupee loan he had taken out from an app called Slice. He said recovery agents used his contact list to repeatedly call his family and friends, demanding they pay on his behalf.

Slice said it abided by RBI rules and did not engage in harassment.

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Chlorinated data – Why Google and Facebook are shifting British data to America | Britain


GOOGLE AND Facebook collect more data about what people are doing on the internet—the web pages they read, the services they use, the links they click—than any other companies. Those data are used to construct profiles of internet users, against which personalised advertisements may be sold. This year, as a consequence of Brexit, the firms are moving legal responsibility for that data from Dublin, where it has sat for the past few years under European law, to California, where both technology firms have their headquarters.

Bits of data themselves will not physically move—datasets are already copied onto servers around the planet in order to ensure reliable service independent from geography. It is legal responsibility for those bits that is moving, some time in 2021. Google and Facebook users in Britain will be informed of the move through one of the regular, tedious sets of terms and conditions which they are asked to accept.

Google’s and Facebook’s move means that British residents will no longer have recourse to European data-protection law. Rather as American food standards are easier on farmers than European ones, which leads to chicken meat being washed in chlorine, so the absence of national privacy or data-protection law in America means that its digital giants can, for instance, deploy face-recognition technology with relative ease. As long as legal authority for a profile remained in Europe, that person, regardless of location, could bring a complaint under European law. Upon acceptance of the new terms, Britons will lose the protections of European law.

In principle that should not matter. British data-protection law is a close copy of Europe’s GDPR, and Britons will still be protected by that regardless of the jurisdiction that administers their data. But practical concerns mean the transfer will make a difference. First, Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office will face the task of regulating giant companies some 5,000 miles away, which may be a struggle for a body that has not excelled at regulating activity even on British soil. Trying to project British law, should Facebook or Google ever break it, into California will be messy, even for post-Brexit Britain at its most global. Dublin was more convenient.

Second, America’s large tech companies are now free to lobby Westminster for favourable changes to Britain’s data-protection law, something which would have been pointless while their legal responsibilities lay in Dublin under European law. It is plausible, says Michael Veale, a lecturer in digital rights at University College London, that tech giants may seek to make Britain a regulatory beacon to Europe through this lobbying, working with the newly flexible, newly sovereign British government to demonstrate the benefits of a new deal on data protection.

It is also plausible that Britons’ standards of data protection will be downgraded over time through this lobbying, although that would risk triggering a fight with the EU over adequacy, and threaten the flow of data between Britain and the EU. It is more likely that, when it comes to their relationship with American tech giants, Britons will be stuck in a post-Brexit quagmire, with an under-resourced regulator trying to control powerful companies thousands of miles away. The EU, for all its faults, kept the locus of control closer to home.

This article appeared in the Britain section of the print edition under the headline “Chlorinated Facebook”

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Parler SUSPENDED from Google Play Store, faces imminent BAN from Apple App Store — RT USA News



Google has purged conservative-friendly social media site Parler from its Play Store, calling for the need to “protect user safety” while saying the platform allows posts that “incite violence,” as Apple considers a similar move.

The Alphabet-owned web behemoth said in a statement on Friday that Parler would be suspended from its main app platform, arguing the site lacks “moderation policies” against “egregious content,” calling those mechanisms a “longstanding” requirement at the Play Store.

“All developers agree to these terms and we have reminded Parler of this clear policy in recent months,” the company said.

We’re aware of continued posting in the Parler app that seeks to incite ongoing violence in the US… In light of this ongoing safety threat, we are suspending the app’s listings from the Play Store until it addresses these issues.

The announcement comes on the heels of reports that Apple had similarly demanded that Parler impose stricter content-policing, handing the site a 24-hour ultimatum to do so or face a ban from its App Store.

Apple made the demand in an email sent on Friday morning, saying it had received complaints that Parler’s platform had been used to plan the storming of the US Capitol by violent protesters on Wednesday, according to BuzzFeed News. “The app also appears to be used to plan and facilitate yet further illegal and dangerous activities,” the tech giant added.

Parler chief executive John Matze confirmed Apple’s demand to both the Wall Street Journal and Reuters. The push to choke off Parler comes at a time when Twitter, Facebook and other social-media giants are purging the accounts of President Donald Trump and his supporters, essentially silencing speech that deviates from mainstream talking points.

Online activist group Sleeping Giants has pressured Apple and Google, whose operating systems dominate the smartphone world, to remove Parler from their app stores for violating their policies on incitement to violence. The group reminded the two companies that it was instrumental in getting Gab, another Twitter-alternative platform, booted from their app stores in 2017. Sleeping Giants has ignored the fact that Twitter and Facebook also have been used to plot violence.



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Sleeping Giants demand Google & Apple pull Parler app from stores over ‘incitement’ to violence


Parler’s user base has grown exponentially in recent months amid rising anti-Trump censorship by such mainstream platforms as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The fledgling platform was adding thousands of users per minute at some points this fall, up from a rate of 2,000 a day prior to last June. Another wave of migration followed this week, with Wednesday’s violence in Washington being used as a pretext to ban conservatives.

“This will be my final post on this anti-American platform,” radio host and Parler stakeholder Dan Bongino told his 2.8 million Twitter followers on Friday morning.

The greatest threats to liberty are the destructive tech tyrants who have acted as publishers in their ongoing wars on conservatives and free speech.

Apple, which has allegedly been a beneficiary of forced labor in China, has nearly 2 million applications available in its App Store, dominating the market for iPhone users. Google Play has closer to 3 million apps available, making it the world’s biggest such outlet.

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Google pitches ‘showcase’ as way forward



Google has launched a fresh bid to tackle a federal government move to make it pay for news content, offering a $1.3 billion program to support journalism.

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Google workers form new union, a tech industry rarity


Unionisation campaigns haven’t historically been able to gain much traction among elite tech workers, who earn big salaries and other perks like free food and shuttle rides to work. But workplace activism at Google and other big tech firms has grown in recent years as employers call for better handling of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination, opposition to Trump administration policies and avoiding harmful uses of the products they’re helping to build and sell.

“One of the reasons why it’s taken a while for workers to get to this point is because the leaders of these companies did a good job of convincing workers they were these benevolent folks who were going to provide for them, kind of a paternalistic model,” said Beth Allen, communications director at the CWA.

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“That got them a long way,” Allen said, but workers have increasingly realised they need “to come together and build power for themselves and have a voice in what’s going on”.

The National Labor Relations Board typically recognises petitions to form new unions when they get interest from at least 30 per cent of employees in a given location or job classification.

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Google employees unionize, escalating tension with management


Employees of Google and parent company Alphabet Inc. announced the creation of a union on Monday, escalating years of confrontation between workers and management of the Internet giant.

The Alphabet Workers Union said it will be open to all employees and contractors, regardless of their role or classification. It will collect dues, pay organizing staff, and have an elected board of directors.

The unionizing effort, a rare campaign within a major U.S. technology company, is supported by the Communications Workers of America as part of a recent tech-focused initiative known as CODE-CWA. Googlers who join the Alphabet Workers Union will also be members of CWA Local 1400. The group, which represents more than 200 workers in the U.S., plans to take on issues including compensation, employee classification and the kinds of work Google engages in.

“We will hire skilled organizers to ensure all workers at Google know they can work with us if they actually want to see their company reflect their values,” Dylan Baker, software engineer at Google, said in a statement.

A letter from the union organizers published in the New York Times said workplace concerns at the company have been dismissed by executives for too long. Google has clashed with some employees in recent years over contracts with the military, the different treatment of contract workers and a rich exit package for an executive ousted for alleged sexual harassment.

“We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce,” said Kara Silverstein, director of people operations at Google, in a statement. “Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”

A successful Alphabet union could limit executives’ authority, while inspiring similar efforts across Silicon Valley, which has mostly avoided unionization so far. The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union filed paperwork in November to represent frontline workers at an Amazon facility in Alabama. The company’s U.S. warehouse workers currently aren’t unionized. A vote among the more than 5,000 workers at the site is expected in the coming weeks.

The announcement didn’t specify whether the new organization will try to secure majority support among Alphabet’s workforce, formal recognition by Alphabet or collective bargaining with the company, a process that has been aggressively resisted by U.S. corporations. CWA’s membership includes some workers, such as public university employees in Tennessee, who engage in collective action while lacking legal collective bargaining rights.

Google worker protests in 2018 forced the company to let a Pentagon artificial intelligence contract lapse. Employee uprisings also led the company to limit the use of forced arbitration that same year.

CWA has been supporting Google activists since at least 2019, when the union filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging workers were fired for taking collective action. In December, the agency’s general counsel took up some of those allegations, accusing Google of illegally firing, interrogating and surveilling activist employees. Google has denied wrongdoing, saying it supports workers’ rights and that the employees in question were punished for “serious violation of our policies and an unacceptable breach of a trusted responsibility.”

More must-read tech coverage from Fortune:

  • Intuit’s CEO on the $7.1 billion Credit Karma acquisition, reorienting toward A.I., and reskilling workers
  • Commentary: The broken business model of Uber and Lyft is taking a heavy toll on society
  • WarnerMedia Studios chief on the controversial decision to release new movies on HBO Max
  • Look out for these new smartphone features in 2021
  • LinkedIn saw a massive influx in user posts and violations this year

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Google workers form union with CWA


Google employees hold signs during a walkout to protest how the tech giant handled sexual misconduct in Mountain View, California, U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. 

Michael Short | Bloomberg | Getty Images

More that 200 Google employees on Monday announced that they’ve come together to form the Alphabet Workers Union amid increasing disagreements with company executives.

News of the union was published in a New York Times op-ed written by two employees, Parul Koul and Chewy Shaw, who serve on the board of the Alphabet Workers Union as executive chair and vice chair, respectively.

Koul and Shaw said they have signed cards with the union Communications Workers of America, a group that represents workers from companies like AT&T and Verizon. They said more than 226 employees have joined the union. The union will be open to all Alphabet workers, they said, including temps, vendors and contractors. Alphabet has several subsidiaries including Google, YouTube and the self-driving car company Waymo. Alphabet has more than 130,000 employees worldwide.

“For far too long, thousands of us at Google — and other subsidiaries of Alphabet, Google’s parent company — have had our workplace concerns dismissed by executives,” the two said in the op-ed. “Our bosses have collaborated with repressive governments around the world. They have developed artificial intelligence technology for use by the Department of Defense and profited from ads by a hate group. They have failed to make the changes necessary to meaningfully address our retention issues with people of color.”

Tensions have risen between employees and executives in recent years. In 2018, Google employees wrote a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai asking him to end a partnership between Google and the Pentagon. Later that year, employees around the world staged a walk-out to protest the company’s handling of executives accused of sexual misconduct, including a $90 million exit package for former Android lead Andy Rubin. Protests were also held in in 2019 to support two employees who were being investigated for retaliation claims. Most recently, employees created a petition to support departed AI researcher Timnnit Gebru, who said she was fired over a research paper dispute.

In a statement to CNBC, Kara Silverstein, Alphabet’s director of people operations, said the company supports workers’ labor rights, but didn’t directly address any of the group’s complaints.

“We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees,” Silverstein said in the statement.

In the op-ed, Koul and Shaw alleged that Alphabet punishes internal critics of the company on topics important to the public, like the antitrust lawsuits against the company. They also said Google executives consolidate their power at the cost of minority groups like Black, trans, queer and disabled workers.

Our union will work to ensure that workers know what they’re working on, and can do their work at a fair wage, without fear of abuse, retaliation or discrimination,” Shaw and Koul wrote.

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