Despite 50 state AGs' antitrust investigations, Google stocks hit an all time high

50 states' Attorneys General are investigating Google for antitrust violations, doing the work that Federal regulators have shirked since the Reagan era. Read the rest

After random surveillance images started to show up on users' devices, Google blocked Xiaomi from running Assistant or Google Home

Last week, a redditor posted that "When I load the Xiaomi camera in my Google home hub I get stills from other people's homes!!" The post included video of the user's tablet showing stills of strangers in their homes, including some of strangers asleep in their bedrooms. Read the rest

Google 'disabling Xiaomi integrations on our devices' after Nest Hub user picked up random pics from strangers' feeds

“Among the eight or so examples initially provided to Reddit are a handful of disturbingly clear images showing a sleeping baby, a security camera's view of an enclosed porch, and a man seemingly asleep in a chair.” Read the rest

Kathryn Spiers: 'I was fired last week by Google for organizing.'

Google denies claim of illegal and retaliatory firing

Google under investigation by National Labor Relations Board for 'Thanksgiving Four' firings

Google is reported to be under investigation by the United States National Labor Relations Board (NLRB.gov) for allegations of discouraging union organizing among workers, and for firing the so-called “Thanksgiving Four.” Read the rest

Talking with the Left Field podcast about Sidewalk Labs's plan to build a surveilling "smart city" in Toronto

We've been closely following the plan by Google sister company Sidewalk Labs to build a surveilling "smart city" in Toronto; last week, I sat down with the Out of Left Field podcast (MP3) to discuss what's going on with Sidewalk Labs, how it fits into the story of Big Tech, and what the alternatives might be. Read the rest

Four union organizers fired from Google

On Friday, googlers staged a workplace rally demanding the reinstatement of two suspended co-workers who'd been involved in workplace organizing against collaboration with ICE and tolerance for homophobia; on Monday, four of the organizers of the rally were fired. Read the rest

Amnesty International: Google and Facebook spell trouble for human rights

Amnesty International has had just about all that it cares to take of Google and Facebook's profiting off of our personal information. In a recent report, the international human rights charity stated that they were deeply concerned that the two companies mass surveillance ventures were making large scale human rights violations an easy go for anyone with access to the information and ill-intent.

From TechCrunch:

“[D]espite the real value of the services they provide, Google and Facebook’s platforms come at a systemic cost,” Amnesty warns. “The companies’ surveillance-based business model forces people to make a Faustian bargain, whereby they are only able to enjoy their human rights online by submitting to a system predicated on human rights abuse. Firstly, an assault on the right to privacy on an unprecedented scale, and then a series of knock-on effects that pose a serious risk to a range of other rights, from freedom of expression and opinion, to freedom of thought and the right to non-discrimination.”

If this argument sounds vaguely familiar to you, then you've been paying attention to this nonsense. As TechCrunch points out, the points that Amnesty International makes have been brought before by the United Nations, Zeynep Tufekci and Shoshana Zuboff—an organization and pair of noted scholars anyone would do well to listen to.

This feels like a topic better left to Cory Doctorow to explain than a chump like me, but let's have a go at it anyway.

By agreeing to Facebook or Google's terms of service, you're agreeing to allowing them to use and abuse your private information. Read the rest

Youtube told them to use this "royalty-free" music; now rightsholders are forcing ads on their videos and claiming most of the revenue

'Dreams' by Joakim Karud is a popular track in Youtube's library of safe, royalty-free music, which it supplies to video creators who want to stay on the right side of copyright, but Sonyatv and Warner Chappell claim that the Creative Commons-licensed song contains an uncleared sample from the Kenny Burrell Quartet's 'Weaver of Dreams,' which has allowed the giant rightsholder corporations to claim ownership over any video that incorporates the track and demand the lion's share of the revenue generated by the tens of millions of views associated with them. Read the rest

Bill Gates just accidentally proved that even "unsuccessful" antitrust enforcement works

In 1992, the Federal Trade Commission opened an antitrust investigation against Microsoft; in 2001, the company settled the claims, making a slate of pro-competitive promises that were widely derided as too little, too late. Read the rest

In Kuwait, domestic laborers are bought and sold on Instagram

“You can wake her up at 5AM, she won't complain.”

Toronto approves Google's surveillance city, despite leaks revealing Orwellian plans

Yesterday, Waterfront Toronto unanimously approved the continuation of Sidewalk Labs's plans for "Quayside," a privatised, surveillance-oriented "smart city" that has been mired in controversy since its earliest days, including secret bullying campaigns, mass resignations of privacy advisors, lies that drastically understated the scope of the project, civil liberties lawsuits, and denunciations by the indigenous elders who were consulted on the project. Read the rest

Despite denials, it's clear that Google's new top national security hire was instrumental to Trump's #KidsInCages policy

After news broke last week that Google's latest head of national security policy engagement was Miles Taylor, former chief of staff to DHS undersecretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Google tried to calm its outraged staff by insisting that Taylor had nothing to do with Trump's Kids in Cages policy that shattered families forever and murdered innocent children, nor with Trump's racist ethnic cleansing Muslim Ban. Read the rest

Indigenous elder on Sidewalk Labs's Toronto consultation: "like being given blankets and gun powder and whisky to trade for our participation"

Sidewalk Labs (previously) is a "smart city" company that was spun out of Google, though it remains owned by Alphabet, Google's parent company; Sidewalk Labs's first major outing is a planned "experimental city" on Toronto's lakeshore, and it's been a disaster, from the bullying it used to get the project's initial approval to being outed for sneaking a massive expansion into the agreement and then lying about it, to mass resignations by its privacy advisors, who denounced the project as a corporate surveillance city whose "privacy protections" were mere figleafs for unfettered, nonconsensual collection and exploitation of residents' data. Read the rest

The Youtubers' union just wants Google to give them the rulebook

Google has blinked in the ongoing attempt to organize Youtube creators in a new organization called Fairtube, under the umbrella of the powerful German trade union IG Metall. Read the rest

Google could use internal surveillance tool to monitor worker dissent and labor organizing, employees warn

Workers at Google say the company is developing an internal surveillance system that could be used to monitor the behavior of employees, and thwart dissent and labor organizing.

The company says they're only trying to make it easier for workers to manage their internal Google calendars and manage meeting spam. Read the rest

Senior DHS staffer who oversaw #KidsInCages and promoted the #MuslimBan is now a top Google employee

Miles Taylor was chief of staff to DHS undersecretary Kirstjen Nielsen, publicly defending his boss's implementation of the #MuslimBan ethnic cleansing policy and helping to implement the family separation #KidsInCages policy. Read the rest

More posts