Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Since 2015, Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and the company board have been warned annually about internal cybersecurity risks. In fact, there are about 1,500 employees plus contractors with the power to make changes in 186 million daily user accounts, and the company had experienced breaches due to internal sources. Then, on July 15, hackers tricked employees to compromise 130 Twitter accounts, including those of Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, Barack Obama and Elon Musk, stealing data from eight unidentified accounts. Continue reading Latest Twitter Hack Puts Spotlight on Internal Security Issues

Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

In Pittsburgh, a group of about 80 HCL Technologies contractors working at Google has voted to unionize with the United Steelworkers. Although the group represents only a small number of the many contractors employed by Google, it represents one of the first groups of tech workers to unionize in the U.S., according to United Steelworkers. At Google’s Bakery Square offices, contractors work side-by-side full-time Google employees but are paid less and receive fewer benefits, leading to the push to organize. Continue reading Google Tech Contractors Vote to Join Steelworkers’ Union

Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

A bipartisan group of Congress members castigated Facebook for hiring contractors to transcribe audio clips and urged regulation to prevent it in the future. The transcriptions were made to help Facebook improve its artificial intelligence-enabled speech recognition, and are part of a move to improve the capabilities of voice assistants (Amazon, Apple and Google are among companies that have taken similar approaches). Last year, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) circulated a draft law that would impose steep fines and even prison for executives who failed to protect users’ personal data. Continue reading Congress Calls For End to Tech Firms’ Audio Transcriptions

Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

Google is pausing Google Assistant voice transcriptions in the European Union for at least three months. In mid-July, it admitted that about 1,000 private communications were made available to human contractors evaluating Assistant’s speech recognition accuracy, revealing personal and private information. A Google spokesperson reported that the company ceased voice transcription involving human moderators after learning of additional leaks in the Netherlands. Amazon will allow Alexa users to opt out of the human review of recordings and Apple has halted its program allowing human contractors to listen in on Siri recordings. Continue reading Google Stops Human Review of Assistant Voice Clips in EU

NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

In an opinion released May 14, the National Labor Relations Board concluded that Uber drivers should be classified as independent contractors, and not company employees. According to the NLRB, Uber drivers qualify as independent workers because they are given “significant entrepreneurial opportunity” and “virtually complete control of their cars, work schedules, and log-in locations, together with their freedom to work for competitors of Uber.” The opinion is a victory for Uber and a setback for drivers and labor advocates, since it makes it more challenging for drivers to file labor complaints, form a union, or seek federal protection. Continue reading NLRB Considers Uber Drivers Freelancers, Not Employees

President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

As part of the Defense Authorization Act, President Trump banned the use of Huawei and ZTE technology by the U.S. government and its contractors. Many Republicans regard the two Chinese companies as national security threats, which led to the passage of a Senate amendment in June to reinstate a trade ban on ZTE, which would have had the impact of shutting that company down. Trump worked to lift the ZTE ban, and the House did not sign off, setting off questions as to whether the two chambers would find a compromise. Continue reading President Bans Government Use of Huawei, ZTE Components

Teamsters Organize Uber Drivers Classified Indie Contractors

Riding-sharing app Uber has tussled with its drivers over how to define their status: independent contractors or full-time employees. Uber prefers to identify its drivers as independent contractors, which lets it off the hook for paying minimum wage, overtime and its share of Social Security. Recent settlements in class-action lawsuits in California and Massachusetts, which must be approved by a judge, allow Uber to continue this classification. The Teamsters union is busy organizing drivers who want representation. Continue reading Teamsters Organize Uber Drivers Classified Indie Contractors