Seven times tech workers staged a revolt against Silicon Valley's dodgy ethics
by Jackie A
8 months ago
1 Last week's global demonstrations against Google's search engine collaboration with the repressive Chinese government
Ten days ago human rights groups organized demonstrations in 10 countries against the Google-designed search engine 'Project Butterfly' that can facilitate human rights abuses. Google CEO Sundar Pichai still hasn't categorically ruled it out. Boo.
2 The Google engineer who quit when he found out what was actually in Project Butterfly
Jack Poulson, a former top Google scientist, found Project Butterfly code explicitly preventing air-quality data if it didn’t come from Beijing, plus thousands of blacklisted terms — anything related to Xi Jinping, the Nobel Prize, or critical of the Chinese government. His boss told him to get over it - and said the US was just as bad as China when it came to surveillance.
3 The Slack engineer who got thousands of tech workers to pledge not to build "immoral" tools
Leigh Honeywell, a super smart Canadian created a Never Again pledge, signed by over 2,800 tech-industry workers, to promise not to work on projects they found immoral. The name reminded them that IBM collaborated to digitize and streamline the Holocaust. For massive profits. Srsly, never again.
4 The #metoo Google walkout
Two months ago, thousands of Google (again) employees walked out after the NY Times revealed Andy Rubin, father of Android, had been paid off $90 million while keeping his sexual misconducts secret. A week later Google acceded to ending forced arbitration in cases of employee harassment and discrimination. Big of them.
5 The Amazon investors who told Bezos to stop selling creepy facial recognition tech to government agencies
On the back of last year's Amazon workers' campaign, this month investors demanded these 'Rekognition' sales be stopped, especially to ICE, the dreaded Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that has been separating tiny children from their families. Amazon workers also called for Amazon Web Services to stop hosting companies like Palantir, that services ICE and makes millions from migrant misery.
6 The engineer who was fired for his right to join a Slack group
Sahil Ralwar, a former engineer at software company Lanetix, was warned off joining a work Slack group that talked about workplace conditions. He then got chucked off the company retreat. He told the California Sunday Magazine he got the majority needed to unionise, gave his superiors notice and ten days later, they were all fired. Silicon Valley, land of the free.
7 The union that might just save Big Bad Tech
Tech Workers Coalition began with a friendship between a cafeteria worker and an engineer in 2014. Its aim was to address social justice, workers' rights and economic inclusion, eg: the rampant sexual harassment (Uber) and the systematic underpayment and under-representation of women and people of colour (Google). Now 500 members and rising. Hurrah.