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  1. 61 percent of employees fail basic cybersecurity quiz Seen here, training underway through NIST’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Careers & Studies. Nearly 70 percent of employees polled in a new survey said they recently received cybersecurity training from their employers, yet 61 percent nevertheless failed when asked to take a basic quiz on the topic.(NIST) Nearly 70% of employees polled in a new survey said they recently received cybersecurity training from their employers, yet 61% nevertheless failed when asked to take a basic quiz on the topic. This was one of the leading findings of a research study – conducted by TalentLMS on behalf of Kenna Security – that sought to understand the cybersecurity habits of some 1,200 workers, as well as their knowledge of best practices and ability to recognize security threats. Here are some the other highlights that underscore why cybercrime has become a trillion-dollar business: Only 17% of those surveyed who work in information services passed the quiz, compared to 57% of health care employees. And yet, 93% of respondents working in information services reported receiving cybersecurity training, compared to 67% of healthcare respondents. 60% of employees who failed the cybersecurity quiz reported that they feel safe from threats. Incredibly, 74% of respondents who answered every single question incorrectly report feeling safe. Despite their largely inherent familiarity with technology, employees aged 18-24 collectively performed the worst on the quiz, with only 16% passing. Among age demographic groups, 25-to-34-year-olds tied with those aged 54 and over for the best collective performance, with a pass rate of 43%. Despite the common frustrations brought out in the survey, companies still need to train, because it’s one of the best first-line defenses against an attack, said Hank Schless, senior manager, security solutions at Lookout. “Be sure to constantly run security training and include mobile in those sessions,” Schless said. “Consider any text, email, WhatsApp message, or communication that creates a time-sensitive situation a red flag. Users should approach any suspicious messages with extreme caution, or go straight to their IT and security teams to have them examine it first.” James McQuiggan, security awareness advocate at KnowBe4, said organizations should hold repetitive simulated phishing assessments and additional training throughout the year, in addition to computer-based training. “Make the training engaging [and] interactive and provide users with an emphasis on protecting their passwords, watching out for phishing links and what it takes to protect the organization as much as the IT and infosec departments,” McQuiggan said. Source: 61 percent of employees fail basic cybersecurity quiz
  2. Edward Snowden has revealed that he witnessed “numerous instances” of National Security Agency (NSA) employees passing around nude photos that were intercepted “in the course of their daily work.” In a 17-minute interview with The Guardian filmed at a Moscow hotel and published on Thursday, the NSA whistleblower addressed numerous points, noting that he could “live with” being sent to the US prison facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He also again dismissed any notion that he was a Russian spy or agent—calling those allegations “bullshit.” If Snowden’s allegations of sexual photo distribution are true, they would be consistent with what the NSA has already reported. In September 2013, in a letter from the NSA’s Inspector General Dr. George Ellard to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), the agency outlined a handful of instances during which NSA agents admitted that they had spied on their former love interests. This even spawned a nickname within the agency, LOVEINT—a riff on HUMINT (human intelligence) or SIGINT (signals intelligence). “You've got young enlisted guys, 18 to 22 years old,” Snowden said. “They've suddenly been thrust into a position of extraordinary responsibility where they now have access to all of your private records. In the course of their daily work they stumble across something that is completely unrelated to their work in any sort of necessary sense. For example, an intimate nude photo of someone in a sexually compromising position. But they're extremely attractive. “So what do they do? They turn around in their chair and show their co-worker. The co-worker says: ‘Hey that's great. Send that to Bill down the way.’ And then Bill sends it to George and George sends it to Tom. And sooner or later this person's whole life has been seen by all of these other people. It's never reported. Nobody ever knows about it because the auditing of these systems is incredibly weak. The fact that your private images, records of your private lives, records of your intimate moments have been taken from your private communications stream from the intended recipient and given to the government without any specific authorization without any specific need is itself a violation of your rights. Why is that in a government database?” Then Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian’s editor-in-chief, asked: “You saw instances of that happening?” “Yeah,” Snowden responded. “Numerous?” “It's routine enough, depending on the company that you keep, it could be more or less frequent. These are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions." Update 5:27pm CT: In an e-mail sent to Ars, NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines wrote: "NSA is a professional foreign-intelligence organization with a highly trained workforce, including brave and dedicated men and women from our armed forces. As we have said before, the agency has zero tolerance for willful violations of the agency’s authorities or professional standards, and would respond as appropriate to any credible allegations of misconduct." However, she declined to respond to direct questions as to the veracity of Snowden's allegations or if anyone at NSA had ever been terminated or otherwise punished for engaging in such behavior. Source
  3. Google productivity is down among its engineers during extended quarantine measures, especially among new hires, according to the tech giant's own internal measures. After three months of working from home, Google engineers reported feeling less productive than earlier in the year when the company recorded its most productive quarter, according to The Information, which reported the internal Google data last week. Most notably from the June internal survey, only 31% of company engineers reported feeling "highly productive," down 8% from earlier this year. Furthermore, only 53% of engineers reportedly felt satisfied with their ability to manage their workloads. Of those, 30% spent less time coding that quarter than the previous quarter. Michael Bachman, Google's head of engineering productivity, urged engineering managers to check-in more often with newer and lower-level staff and to assign more manageable workloads in response to the survey. While the findings reflect sentiment from engineers, Bachman warned other company leaders that waning productivity is a concern across departments. In total, 200,000 employees are estimated to be impacted by the policy, including a reported 1,100 employees here in Austin. In a response to The Information, a Google spokesperson said the company-wide productivity rebounded after a short decline and has since exceeded pre-quarantine levels. But there is speculation that Google CEO Sundar Pichai is reluctant to make work-from-home policies permanent because of the decreased productivity. The Wall Street Journal first reported this summer that Google has already committed to remote work through at least June 2021. "To give employees the ability to plan ahead, we are extending our global voluntary work from home option through June 30, 2021, for roles that don't need to be in the office. I hope this will offer the flexibility you need to balance work with taking care of yourselves and your loved ones over the next 12 months," Pichai said in an email to employees in July, according to Forbes. Twitter took that policy one step further by allowing staff to work from home permanently, Techcrunch reported in May. Microsoft reportedly followed by offering the same remote work option. But Google is still committing to a "hybrid" model, which blends remote work with in-office work. The waning productivity internally could be a factor for the differing strategy. More "hub" offices around the country, as reported by Business Insider, could help Google execute on that plan. For the first time since 2017, Google failed to make the top of Hired's survey of dream employers to work for, falling to No. 3 this year behind Netflix and Github. Source
  4. Microsoft employees will also be able to relocate Microsoft is allowing its employees to work from home permanently. While the vast majority of Microsoft employees are still working from home during the ongoing pandemic, the software maker has unveiled “hybrid workplace” guidance internally to allow for far greater flexibility once US offices eventually reopen. The Verge has received Microsoft’s internal guidance, and it outlines the company’s flexible working plans for the future. Microsoft will now allow employees to work from home freely for less than 50 percent of their working week, or for managers to approve permanent remote work. Employees who opt for the permanent remote work option will give up their assigned office space, but still have options to use touchdown space available at Microsoft’s offices. “The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged all of us to think, live, and work in new ways,” says Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft’s chief people officer, in a note to employees. “We will offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual workstyles, while balancing business needs, and ensuring we live our culture.” Microsoft’s hardware labs. Microsoft highlights a few roles that still require access to the company’s offices, including those that require access to hardware labs, data centers, and in-person training. Employees will also be allowed to relocate domestically with approval, or even seek to move internationally if remote working is viable for their particular role. While Microsoft employees will be allowed to move across country for remote work, compensation and benefits will change and vary depending on the company’s own geopay scale. Microsoft will be covering home office expenses for permanent remote workers, but any that decide to move away from Microsoft’s offices will need to cover their own relocation costs. Flexible working hours will also be available without manager approval, and employees can also request part-time work hours through their managers. Microsoft’s move to more flexible working comes months after the company notified employees that its US offices wouldn’t reopen until January 2021 at the earliest. Microsoft originally allowed its employees to work from home back in March before enforcing a mandatory work from home policy as the pandemic spread across Seattle and further into the US. Microsoft isn’t alone in allowing employees to permanently work remotely. Facebook is shifting tens of thousand of jobs to remote work, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed to The Verge that up to half of employees could work remotely within five to 10 years. While most employees will be able to easily take advantage of the less than 50 percent working from home option, some roles will be difficult, or even impossible, to permanently transition to remote. Source
  5. Password-sharing and reuse is still prominent, but mulit-factor authentication is on the rise, new study shows. An employee on average shares six passwords with their co-workers, and half of employees reuse passwords among work and personal accounts. But there is a bit of good news: 45% of businesses are using multi-factor authentication, up from 24.5% last year, according to a study by password manager LastPass of 43,000 organizations that use its service. Some 63% of organizations that employ MFA are in the US. Even some smaller-sized companies are employing MFA: 41% of those doing so have 25 or fewer employees, the study found. Meantime, 3% of companies with 10,000 or more employees do so. Read the full report here. Source
  6. Six former Facebook employees who left the company within the last two years told CNBC they've experienced a rise in contact from current company employees to inquire about opportunities or ask for job references. The shift in behavior comes as Facebook deals with scandal after scandal while seeing a nearly 40 percent drop in its stock price from a peak in July. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Facebook Inc. Some former Facebook employees say their phone is ringing a lot more in the last two months. On the other line: former Facebook colleagues asking about job openings or looking for a reference. This type of behavior is normal at most companies. But according to a half dozen former employees, all of whom left in the last year or two, it's a major change in behavior at Facebook, which had long been known around Silicon Valley as the company that no one leaves. These people requested anonymity as none is authorized by Facebook to talk about their time there or interactions with employees. The shift could be an early warning of recruiting and retention challenges for Facebook after a turbulent year. In 2018, the company has faced public questioning at multiple congressional hearings, scandals around third-party abuse of user data and public relations practicesand flat or declining user growth in key markets. It's also seen its stock drop nearly 40 percent from July. The stories from former employees are only anecdotal at this point, and there's no firm data showing a significant uptick in departures or employee dissatisfaction. On Glassdoor, a site where workers anonymously review their employers, Facebook is among the best-rated tech companies, with a satisfaction rating of 4.3 out of 5. However, that rating has fallen noticeably during the last year, with a particularly sharp drop in the last few months. Even if Facebook employees are starting to consider other options, that's not uncommon as hot tech companies mature. Around 2010, Google saw a wave of engineers and executives leave for greener pastures, including Facebook. Microsoft faced a similar exodus in the early 2000s, captured most saliently by the anonymous employee blog Mini-Microsoft. "Our retention rate continues to be very strong," said Anthony Harrison, a Facebook spokesman. "Everyone at Facebook is focused on making a positive impact in the world, and on working on hard challenges that matter." But several former employees who spoke to CNBC believe that the wave of scandals and falling stock price are spurring more people to consider leaving for the first time. "There's new things coming out every day," said one former company executive. "It's a quite somber atmosphere right now at the company." 'They're just burnt' Employees have a tradition of posting photos of their badges on secret Facebook groups for alumni of the company when they quit, another former Facebook manager said. "I've been seeing a lot of badges lately," he said. This manager also said he'd heard recently from a couple of current Facebook employees, including one individual who has been with the company for more than seven years but expressed that he has finally burned out. "A lot of people want to do something different," he said. "They're just burnt." A former Facebook recruiter said he has heard from more than 30 current employees in the past year, including approximately 15 in the past two months. Most of these employees say "'My manager sucks, and I need to look for something new. Do you know of any new opportunities?'" the recruiter said. "They're coming to ask 'What are you seeing in the market across Silicon Valley?'" the recruiter said. Some former employees cited a broader change in the culture as well. In the past year, the company has grown from nearly 23,200 employees in September 2017 to more than 33,600 employees a year later, according to the company's latest financial filings. With that growth has come increased bureaucracy and an increase in a top-down management style, one former Facebook manager said. Whereas previously Facebook had a start-up environment where colleagues felt everyone had each other's backs, there is now more politics and more grandstanding, another former manager said. "There's a lot of people who succeed more by how things looked than by the work they were doing, and there were people who were let go that were incredibly well-respected and it was because they weren't playing the politics game," one of the former managers said. One former Facebook engineer said he has been contacted by about a dozen Facebook employees since leaving the company this summer, saying they were thinking about leaving the company or inquiring what his experience has been like since his own departure. Just before speaking with CNBC, another Facebook employee called him to ask for advice on clearance for setting up a start-up while remaining at Facebook, this person said. "Overall, I've seen an uptick in people either looking for other activities or dipping their toes outside the Facebook pool," he said. In the past, Facebook employees who had been with the company for only a year or two but were unhappy with their roles were likely to request a team switch. Now, employees in that situation are simply looking to leave the company, the former engineer said. "This time around far more people are immediately jumping instead of switching teams," the former Facebook engineer said. Leaving the right way is important Many of the employees calling former colleagues also ask for advice on the best way to leave Facebook, according to multiple former employees. This is because the company categorizes departing employees under one of two tags: "regrettable" or "non-regrettable" attrition. Being labeled as "non-regrettable" is the equivalent of getting blacklisted by Facebook and prevented from ever working there again. For anyone in Silicon Valley who wishes to work at a top company, getting a banned by Facebook cuts down job opportunities drastically. "The way you do it and the timing matters a lot, and it requires knowledge of the game," the former Facebook engineer said. "Once someone got one of these things ... it's like Voldemort," one of the former Facebook managers said. "It's a name you can not say." Another former Facebook director said he has seen a rise in the number of his ex-colleagues who have reached out to ask about openings at his current company, and these employees often ask about advice on the best way to leave Facebook. He's also experienced an increase in calls from other companies that are running references on current Facebook staffers. "Once it becomes weird to tell people that they work at Facebook, or once their moms aren't proud of them anymore, that's when people are going to head to the exits," he said. "I think we're already getting there." Previously, Facebook's attrition rate was less than 5 percent, estimated one of the former Facebook managers, who left the company earlier this year. This person believes that attrition rate has risen this year. "Nobody really left Facebook. There were not many places you could leave that were better jobs," the former manager said. "Now? I think it's normalized. People now don't look at Facebook as a dream job anymore. They're open to leaving, and they can envision places that are better." Source
  7. Over the course of the last month, some troubling information has surfaced about Ring, the Amazon-owned company that has millions of cameras inside and outside homes across the globe. The Information in December suggested Ring employees in both the U.S. and the UK had unfettered, unnecessary access to customer camera feeds, and today, The Intercept has shared additional details. Starting in 2016, Ring allowed its Ukraine-based research team to access "every video created by every Ring camera around the world." Video content was unencrypted and "easily browsed and viewed," plus videos were linked to specific customers. Ring employees highlighted objects in video feeds to improve object and facial recognition> Ring's Ukraine team was provided with access to further development on facial and object recognition software, with executives and engineers in the U.S. also able to access the same data even if they didn't specifically need it for their jobs. Employees with access to customer feeds could view an individual's camera with just an email address. Ring employees weren't just watching outdoor video, either, with a source who spoke to The Intercept suggesting indoor video was viewed as well for the same object recognition training. Ring employees were instructed to draw boxes around objects with labeling, allowing the system to learn to recognize various things. Employees allegedly showed each other the videos they were annotating and discussed some of the incidents they witnessed, such as people kissing, stealing, and guns being fired. According to The Intercept, Ring is still using similar tactics for improving video tagging and object recognition. Ring Labs, the team Ring has in the Ukraine, is continuing to employ people who watch and tag details in Ring video content. Ring spokesperson Yassi Shahmiri declined to answer The Intercept's questions about past and current data policies, but he confirmed that Ring views and annotates "certain Ring videos" that are either public or obtained with "explicit written consent." Team members are held to "high ethical standards" and there are systems in place to "restrict and audit access to information." Bad actors are subject to a "zero tolerance" response if abuse is detected. As The Intercept points out, given the information from the sources it spoke to, it is not known if Ring has always used the standards described in its current statement, and past reporting from The Information has suggested that access used to be less restrictive until Amazon purchased the service. As Ring says, Ring users who are opting into the Neighbors system, which allows for sharing of videos to "create safer videos" are unknowingly opting in to potentially having those videos viewed by Ring employees and there is no mention of that when customers sign up for the feature. Ring's terms of service and privacy policy do not mention manual or visual annotation by employees, even though that practice is still being used to this day, nor are customers notified that some employees had or could still have access to their camera feeds. Current and prospective Ring customers should be aware of Ring's practices and wary of who has access to their videos. Source
  8. A New Jersey woman has sued T-Mobile in state court last week for sexual harassment, invasion of privacy, and other counts. She claims that, when she went to trade in her iPhone 7 at a store, two male employees rifled through her photos without her consent. The men allegedly quickly found a private naked video of the woman, referred to in the complaint as "N.E.," and played it for themselves. The woman was mortified. Ars contacted T-Mobile, which did not respond to our questions. "We take customer privacy extremely seriously and are investigating the claims," a spokesperson wrote, declining to elaborate. Ars also contacted Lorena Ahumada, an attorney for T-Mobile, who did not respond. Justin Sachs, the manager of this particular T-Mobile store at the Hamilton Mall in Mays Landing, just outside of Atlantic City, told Ars that he wanted to apologize to N.E. "We know that it's unacceptable, to be going through a customer's private information," he told Ars. "Any confidential information, finding out something you accidentally clicked on." Sachs said that he has worked for Executive Cellular Phones, the contracted company that runs this store, for five years, and is unaware of any similar incidents. He also said that T-Mobile investigators reviewed internal surveillance video but was not able to definitively determine if the two men accessed N.E.'s phone. Since the incident, Sergio, one of men, still works at the store. Another one, Victor, resigned from the store in December to take a new job. "How would you feel about that, if without your permission, someone was rifling through your phone?" Sachs tells new employees, underscoring that it is potentially a fireable offense. Numerous similar cases have been reported in recent years nationwide. In August 2018, a Wisconsin man who worked at a Verizon store involved in a similar criminal case was sentenced to five months in jail and three years probation. Saved by AirPods? In an interview with Ars, N.E. laid out her story. It began last November, just days before Thanksgiving, when she walked into the store. She works in another part of the same mall and sought advice on a possible iPhone upgrade. Once in the T-Mobile store, N.E. saw another woman that she was acquainted with. This acquaintance, who worked in the store, directed her to two male employees. N.E.'s phone was broken: the screen was cracked and the microphone had stopped working, so she relied constantly on her wireless AirPods. The men seemed to be helpful at first, and one offered to do a trade-in for her, telling her that she could upgrade to a newer iPhone XR for just $90. They asked her to unlock her phone and disable Find My iPhone to begin the data transfer to a new device. She did so and stepped away to consider the various XR color options. Then, all of a sudden, she could hear in the AirPods—the men may not have known she was wearing them, as her long hair covered the headphones—a distinct sound. N.E. turned around and marched up to the men, grabbing her phone from one of them. "He probably saw me coming," she told Ars. "So I started going through all my pictures and my videos, and I replayed them. When you go to the camera roll, that video—you can spot it. There are so many squares, and there is one that you can see what it is. One video was very obvious what it was." N.E. described the video in general terms to Ars and acknowledged that it showed her naked. The video was only meant to be seen by one other person, her fiancé. N.E. was mortified and left the store immediately in tears. As a recent immigrant from the Middle East, she particularly didn't want her parents to know that she had filmed such an intimate video and, worse, had kept it on her phone where others could find it. "I didn't want anyone in the store to know anything was wrong," she said. "I didn't want to make a big deal out of it." But after a few moments, N.E. returned to the store and went straight to her female acquaintance and asked to simply finish her transaction. She didn't confront the men. The transfer took some time, and she even stayed until after the store had closed until it was complete. The men didn't approach N.E. "It didn't even bother them, as if I was nothing," she continued. "I felt worthless because, hello, I'm a human being and this is something that's very private. It's like I'm not important. I felt powerless, because I couldn't say anything about it in the moment." Multiple defendants N.E. told her fiancé what had happened, and he was outraged. The fiancé called T-Mobile's customer service, expressing grave concern over the violation of customer privacy and worry that this video may have been further shared without N.E.'s consent. But after being passed on to another T-Mobile representative, Michael, the fiancé was ultimately unsatisfied as to the company's response. T-Mobile had promised him investigate surveillance footage from the store and conduct further inquiry, but the company seems to have made no effort to do so. "[T-Mobile was] treating it like someone had walked into the store and wasn't greeted well," N.E. told Ars. Eventually, N.E. found attorneys and filed her lawsuit on January 11, 2019. In addition to T-Mobile, the case also names as defendants: Executive Cellular Phones, the company that contracts with T-Mobile to run that store; one of the two men, Victor; and the other man whose identity remains unidentified in the civil complaint. One of N.E.'s attorneys, Christian McOmber, told Ars that it was difficult to know what the end result would be for a case like this. "It's difficult to give any financial estimate, because cases are settled," he said. "In some ways this is a new frontier. Now the court systems are catching up." But, he noted, his firm would be aggressive. "You can't harass somebody who is trying to do business with you," McOmber added. "We're looking for significant compensation for her, because concrete doesn't fix sidewalks. Judgements fix sidewalks. T-Mobile needs to take responsibility for their operators. They need to be responsible for their services, for the training, for the qualification, and their oversight, and here they've neglected to do all of that." Source
  9. Businesses across the US are putting their data security at risk by allowing employees to access levels of company data they don’t need to complete their job, a new study of business data practices has found. Commissioned by the marketplace for business app discovery, GetApp, the survey asked 714 full-time US employees about the data security practices of their employer. More than one in ten employees (12%) reported they have access to all company data. Almost half (48%) said they can access company data that is not needed to perform their job. Highlighting the negligent attitude of some US enterprises when it comes to their most valuable data, the study was conducted alongside recent news that the average data breach costs US businesses over $8 million. GetApp’s survey also asked employees what classifications of data protection are in place at their company. No more than a third of businesses were found to use anyone individual data classification. The lowest in use are Proprietary (15%) and Highly Confidential (18%). The most prevalent data classification levels in use are as follows: Confidential – 33% of businesses use this classification Internal – 30% Public – 29% Restricted/Sensitive – 25% In light of the results, GetApp has compiled a data protection guide for US businesses. It highlights the importance of good data handling practices and offers tips for building a business data classification policy. Zach Capers, Senior Content Analyst at GetApp said of the findings: “As companies contend with rapidly growing volumes of sensitive information, data security risks are increasing for businesses of all sizes. That’s why the outcome of our survey is so alarming. “You may have complete trust in your employees, but innocent mistakes happen and it could cost a business millions in lost revenue and reputational damage. Strict data classification, alongside extensive employee training on the dangers of poor data handling practices, will minimize the chance of a leak happening at your business.” Source
  10. Workers are circulating a petition Google employees are demanding that the company not bid on a cloud computing contract with US Customs and Border Protection in the latest act of protest inside the tech industry. In a petition circulated today inside Google and on Medium, a group of employees said immigration officials are “perpetrating a system of abuse and malign neglect” at the border. The employees point to the Trump administration’s family separation policy and the recent deaths of children in immigration officials’ custody. “These abuses are illegal under international human rights law, and immoral by any standard,” the petition reads. In the hours after it was released, hundreds of employees added their signatures to the petition. The employees point to a request for bids on a CBP cloud computing contract, which is a service Google provides. “The winning cloud provider will be streamlining CBP’s infrastructure and facilitating its human rights abuses,” the petition continues, and the employees demand that Google commit to not provide immigration agencies with any funding or work. “History is clear: the time to say NO is now,” the petition reads. “We refuse to be complicit.” The protest is the latest in a series of actions both inside Google and within the industry as a whole as employees question how their work contributions will be used. Many Google workers vigorously protested a plan to work with the US government on an AI system to analyze drone footage, known as Project Maven. In the face of protests, the company’s plan was eventually shelved. Update, 1:27PM ET: Includes updated count of signatures, now in the hundreds. Source
  11. The Ukrainian Secret Service is investigating the incident as a potential security breach. Image: Viktor Kiryanov Ukrainian authorities are investigating a potential security breach at a local nuclear power plant after employees connected parts of its internal network to the internet so they could mine cryptocurrency. The investigation is being led by the Ukrainian Secret Service (SBU), who is looking at the incident as a potential breach of state secrets due to the classification of nuclear power plants as critical infrastructure. Investigators are examining if attackers might have used the mining rigs as a pivot point to enter the nuclear power plant's network and retrieve information from its systems, such as data about the plant's physical defenses and protections. Mining rig seized in July According to authorities, the incident took place in July at the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant, located near the city of Yuzhnoukrainsk, in southern Ukraine. It's unknown how the scheme was discovered, but on July 10 the SBU raided the nuclear power plant, from where it seized computers and equipment specifically built for mining cryptocurrency. This equipment was found in the power plant's administration offices, and not on its industrial network. Confiscated equipment included two metal cases containing basic computer parts, but with additional power supplies, coolers, and video cards. According to court documents [1, 2], one case held six Radeon RX 470 GPU video cards, and the second five. Further, the SBU also found and seized additional equipment[1, 2] that looked like mining rigs in the building used as barracks by a military unit of the National Guard of Ukraine, tasked with guarding the power plant. Several employees have been charged for their involvement in the scheme, but not yet arrested. It's unclear if any military staff was charged. Officials believe the suspects attempted their scheme because of a recent spike in cryptocurrency trading prices, after a long period during which they fell. Ukrainian news site UNIAN first reported the investigation. Not the first incident of its kind This incident isn't the first time that state employees have abused their access to large sources of electricity or computing power to mine cryptocurrency. In February 2018, Russian authorities arrested engineers from the Russian Nuclear Center for using the agency's supercomputer to mine cryptocurrency. A month later, Australian officials began an investigation into a similar case at the Bureau of Meteorology, where employees used work computers to mine cryptocurrency. A month after that, in April 2018, an employee at the Romanian National Research Institute for Nuclear Physics and Engineering was also caught mining cryptocurrency at work. Local news outlets reported that the employee brought his own mining rig and connected it to the institute's electrical network, which was recently expanded to support one of the most powerful lasers in the world. Source
  12. IBM reportedly axed as many as 100,000 employees in the last few years because it wanted to appear "cool" and "trendy" like Amazon or Google, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. IBM has been hit by several age discrimination suits filed by former employees. Asked about the accusation, the company said IBM has been "reinvented to target higher value opportunities for our clients." Image: IBM CEO Virginia "Ginni" Rometty Hoping to come across to millennials as "cool" and "trendy" like Amazon or Google, IBM may have axed as many as 100,000 employees in the last few years. The charge came up in the deposition of a former IBM vice president in an ongoing age discrimination suit, according to a Bloomberg report. Asked for a comment on the report, IBM told Business Insider in an email, "We have reinvented IBM in the past five years to target higher value opportunities for our clients." IBM has been hit by several lawsuits accusing the tech giants of discrimination against older workers. In one of the civil cases, Alan Wild, a former IBM human resources vice president, said the company "laid off 50,000 to 100,000 employees in just the last several years," according to Bloomberg, citing a court document filed Tuesday in Texas. Wild said in his deposition that IBM wanted to demonstrate to millennials that the company wasn't "an old fuddy duddy organization," and that it hoped to come across as "as [a] cool, trendy organization" like search giant Google or online retail behemoth Amazon. "To do that, IBM set out to slough off large portions of its older workforce using rolling layoffs over the course of several years," the court filing said, according to the report. In its email, IBM said it "hires 50,000 employees each year, and spends nearly a half-billion dollars on training our team." "We also receive more than 8,000 job applications every day, the highest rate that we've ever experienced, so there's clear excitement about IBM's strategy and direction for the future," the company said. IBM is a major player in the enterprise tech market. But the company has struggled against newer rivals, led by Amazon and Google, which dominate the fast-growing cloud computing market — and it's seen its revenues shrink continuously for the last seven or so years. IBM had 350,600 workers worldwide at the end of 2018, down 19% from 2013. Source
  13. SEATTLE - More than 330 Amazon employees violated the e-commerce giant's communications policy Sunday in an unprecedented public display of support for colleagues who were warned that they could be fired for speaking out to criticize the company's climate practices. Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, a group of workers concerned about the company's business with the oil and gas industry as well as its carbon footprint, published quotes from the workers in a post on Medium. The comments, all of which are attributed to Amazon workers by name, are a mass defiance of company rules that bar workers from commenting publicly on its business without corporate justification and approval from executives. "Amazon's role in the climate crisis is staggering and alarming," wrote Scott Ogle, a queue management analyst, according to comments viewed in advance by The Washington Post. "While the company has publicly announced measures to reduce emissions and impacts in the coming years, it does not add up with its ongoing support to oil and gas industries and its efforts to silence employees who speak out. I stand with fellow employees who prioritize sustainability over profits." Another employee denounced Amazon's efforts to stifle criticism. "Solidarity to the workers facing retaliation for standing up!" wrote Charlie LaBarge, a software engineer. The group on Monday plans to post a video of employees speaking about the danger of climate change and saying they won't be silenced. Amazon encourages workers to advocate for causes they believe in but wants them to pursue those convictions when related to the company's business internally, spokesman Drew Herdener said in a statement. Workers can submit questions to executives during all-hands meetings, and they can join internal interest groups, such as ones that focus on sustainability. Employees can also attend lunch sessions with Amazon leaders to discuss the issues, as long as they are willing to keep matters raised in those sessions confidential. "While all employees are welcome to engage constructively with any of the many teams inside Amazon that work on sustainability and other topics, we do enforce our external communications policy and will not allow employees to publicly disparage or misrepresent the company or the hard work of their colleagues who are developing solutions to these hard problems," Herdener said. To illustrate Amazon's focus on sustainability, Herdener pointed to an initiative Bezos announced in September agreeing to measure and report Amazon's emissions on a regular basis and meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement 10 years early. Critics said at the time that the commitments lack accountability and transparency. "Of course we are passionate about these issues," Herdener said. The employee group claims credit for pushing Amazon to take those steps, but it wants the company to go further. The group has called on Amazon to commit to being carbon neutral by 2030, to end cloud-computing contracts that help energy companies accelerate oil and gas extraction and to stop funding politicians and lobbyists who deny the existence of climate change. Amazon workers are part of a growing activist movement among tech workers. Along with thousands of Amazon employees, Google workers walked off the job Sept. 20 to protest corporate climate policies. A year before, thousands of Google employees stepped away from their desks to protest the company's handling of sexual harassment claims. Workers at both of those companies, as well as at Microsoft, have criticized the development of facial-recognition technology from their companies, fearing misuse by law enforcement and other government agencies. Amazon's employees are betting the company won't crack down on them; Google's workers say they were fired in retaliation for their public criticism of the company and their attempts to organize. Google said the recent firings were a result of policy violations regarding the accessing and sharing of internal documents and calendars. The company has denied that the firings were retaliatory. The activism of Amazon's workers is different, said Margaret O'Mara, a history professor at the University of Washington and the author of "The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America," a chronicle of the tech industry. Collective action is rare among white-collar workers, and even rarer among the coders, testers and engineers who work for tech giants. "This is not something we've seen before," O'Mara said. The challenge for Amazon is that it is selective in its hiring, investing large sums to entice employees to join the company and train them to develop its sophisticated products and services. Though the workers speaking out account for a small fraction of Amazon's total workforce of 750,000, including warehouse workers, they would be costly to replace. "These high-skilled workers are among these tech companies' most valuable assets," O'Mara said. Sunday's protest follows a threat to fire two workers who spoke out about the company's environmental policies in October. Maren Costa, a principal user-experience designer at the company, and Jamie Kowalski, a software development engineer, told The Post in a joint statement that the company is contributing to climate change as its cloud-computing business aids exploration by oil and gas companies. The pair raised concerns related to a new set of statements from the company outlining its positions on a variety of issues, including an acknowledgment that it would continue to work with the energy industry. Within a few weeks, both employees were called into meetings with the company's human resources staff, and both received letters in November from a lawyer in the department discouraging violations of Amazon's communications policies. The letter to Costa warned that future infractions could "result in formal corrective action, up to and including termination of your employment with Amazon." Rather than back down, the activist employees dialed up the pressure on their employer. The employee group that solicited the comments aims to fight Amazon's communications policy in numbers so large retaliating against everyone would make it challenging to conduct business. "The idea is to intentionally break the communications policy so prolifically that it is unenforceable," the group wrote in an email to colleagues soliciting policy-breaking quotes. "Hundreds of us are now putting our job on the line - because we all believe that speaking up about the climate crisis is necessary and the right thing to do at this time," Sarah Tracy, a software development engineer, said in an email to The Post. "A policy that prevents employees from speaking out in this way at this time just won't work for us." Employee criticism went beyond condemnation of the company's climate policies. Workers also called out Amazon's cloud-computing business for its work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which some have criticized for separating parents from their children at border facilities, and condemned Amazon's treatment of its warehouse staff, some of whom have complained about unsafe working conditions. "No more collaborating with ICE or with oil and gas. No more abusing warehouse employees with inhumane quotas," Hilda Marshall, a data linguist at the company wrote. "Amazon is in a position to turn the tide, and the time is now." One worker suggested Amazon nix its Ring doorbell-camera business, arguing that the privacy concerns are "not compatible with a free society." Ring acknowledged earlier this month that it fired workers in recent years for improperly accessing users' video data. Last year, a hacker accessed a Ring camera in an 8-year-old girl's room and used it to harass her, something the company attributed to the theft of credentials that provided access. "The privacy issues are not fixable with regulation and there is no balance that can be struck," wrote software development engineer Max Eliaser. "Ring should be shut down immediately and not brought back." Moreover, members of climate group say speaking up about important issues, even if it means disagreeing with senior leaders, is an ingrained part of Amazon's corporate culture. At the core of Amazon's culture are 14 leadership principles, intended to guide decision-making at the company, including "Have Backbone; Disagree and Commit," in which workers are encouraged to argue their convictions, "even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting." "I thought Amazon was a place where those who see something that's wrong and bring it up are celebrated for being leaders, not threatened with firing," said Victoria Liang, a software development engineer and a member of the climate group. Source
  14. "We are aware of incidents discussed below where employees violated our policies," a letter from Ring obtained by Motherboard reads. Amazon-owned home security camera company Ring has fired employees for improperly accessing Ring users' video data, according to a letter the company wrote to Senators and obtained by Motherboard. The news highlights a risk across many different tech companies: employees may abuse access granted as part of their jobs to look at customer data or information. In Ring's case this data can be particularly sensitive though, as customers often put the cameras inside their home. "We are aware of incidents discussed below where employees violated our policies," the letter from Ring, dated January 6, reads. "Over the last four years, Ring has received four complaints or inquiries regarding a team member's access to Ring video data," it continues. Ring explains that although each of these people were authorized to view video data, their attempted access went beyond what they needed to access for their job. "In each instance, once Ring was made aware of the alleged conduct, Ring promptly investigated the incident, and after determining that the individual violated company policy, terminated the individual," the letter adds. As well as firing workers, Ring has also taken steps to limit such data access to a smaller number of people, the letter reads. It says three employees can currently access stored customer videos. As The Intercept previously reported, Ring granted a number of workers in Ukraine access to Ring user video for research purposes. In the new letter, Ring says "The R&D team in Ukraine can only access publicly available videos and videos available from Ring employees, contractors, and friends and family of employees or contractors with their express consent." Ring's letter was in response to one multiple Senators sent to the company in November 2019. In that, Senators Ron Wyden, Chris Van Hollen, Edward J. Markey, Christopher A. Coons, and Gary C. Peters asked Ring multiple questions about the security of Ring's systems. In response to a wave of incidents where hackers broke into Ring users' accounts and then harassed customers through their devices, Ring has implemented a number of new security features, such as requiring new signups to use two-factor authentication. In December Motherboard found multiple security issues with the Ring platform, such as Ring allowing logins from unknown IP addresses. Ring has since introduced warning messages when someone logs in from a new location. “Requiring two-factor for new accounts is a step in the right direction, but there are millions of consumers who already have a Ring camera in their homes who remain needlessly vulnerable to hackers. Amazon needs to go further—by protecting all Ring devices with two-factor authentication. It is also disturbing to learn that Ring’s encryption of user videos lags behind other companies, who ensure that only users have the encryption keys to access their data," Senator Wyden said in a statement. When asked specific questions on the termination of employees who abused data access, a Ring spokesperson told Motherboard in an email, "We do not comment on personnel matters." Update: This piece has been updated to include a statement from Ring. Source
  15. Twitter has announced that employees are encouraged to work from home in an effort to stop the spread of a novel coronavirus that has infected at least 105 people in 15 states and killed six people in the U.S. The San Francisco-based social media company is believed to be the first major U.S. firm to announce a work-from-home policy as companies around the world enact new plans to fight COVID-19. Shelves where disinfectant wipes are usually displayed at a Target store on March 2, 2020 in Novato, California in the Bay Area. “Beginning today, we are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able. Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus for us—and the world around us,” Twitter said in a statement posted to the company’s website. “We are operating out of an abundance of caution and the utmost dedication to keeping our Tweeps healthy.” There have been no reports of any Twitter employees contracting the virus, but with over 4,800 employees worldwide, the company clearly doesn’t want to take any chances. As of Tuesday morning, the coronavirus pandemic has reached at least 67 countries, sickened over 91,000 people worldwide, and killed at least 3,118. Twitter cofounder and CEO Jack Dorsey, who has recently come under fire from activist investors who want him to step down, recently cancelled his appearance at this year’s South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas over concerns about the coronavirus outbreaks. South by Southwest is still scheduled to start on Friday, March 13 and will not be cancelled, despite a petition to do exactly that, according to the Austin American-Statesman. While Twitter is encouraging people to work from home, it’s also allowing employees in some countries to continue traveling into the office if they like. Working from home is already mandatory for Twitter employees in Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea due to government restrictions. “We are working to make sure internal meetings, all hands, and other important tasks are optimized for remote participation,” Twitter said. “We recognize that working from home is not ideal for some job functions. For those employees who prefer or need to come into the offices, they will remain open for business.” Hong Kong has 100 cases and two deaths, while Japan has 274 cases and 6 deaths, not including the passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise that was, until recently, docked in Yokohama. At least 706 of the roughly 3,700 people on board contracted the virus and six have died. South Korea has also been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, with 374 new cases on Tuesday alone, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 5,186. South Korea’s government, which has declared a “war” on the virus, announced on Tuesday that the country has 28 deaths so far, according to Yonhap News. Twitter added that it’s “deep cleaning and sanitizing” its buildings and is installing visual reminders on personal hygiene and food safety. And it’s unlikely that this will be the first U.S.-based company to encourage employees to stay home. “While this is a big change for us, we have already been moving towards a more distributed workforce that’s increasingly remote,” Twitter said in a statement. “We’re a global service and we’re committed to enabling anyone, anywhere to work at Twitter.” Source
  16. Amazon mistakenly told some sellers that it's now blocking ads with 'religious content' Key Points Amazon told some sellers that it is now blocking ads containing language about religion, after updating its ad policy. An Amazon spokesperson said its policies haven't changed and the blocking was in error, and its employees are now receiving "corrective training." Sellers of religious products, however, say the change is resultin in a direct sales loss. Amazon employees have been mistakenly taking down ads with religious content, causing some small sellers to take a direct hit on their sales. Multiple sellers have seen their product ads get suspended in recent months for having language about religion, CNBC has learned. These sellers were told by email that their ads were getting blocked due to a "new policy update" at Amazon which bans any ad that contains "religious content." "Products related to a specific religion are not allowed to be advertised," an Amazon representative told one of the sellers in an email viewed by CNBC. Now, Amazon says it was just a snafu. Amazon's spokesperson told CNBC in an email that there haven't been any policy updates and that its employees are being re-trained. "The email that CNBC viewed contains inaccurate information and our long standing policies have not changed. Corrective training is being provided to the relevant teams," Amazon's spokesperson said. The incident is the latest example of Amazon marketplace sellers getting caught in the crossfire as the company has struggled to manage the sprawling growth of the third-party marketplace, which now accounts for more than half of the company's e-commerce volume. For example, as Amazon cracked down on a growing problem with counterfeit products, bad actors have used fake counterfeit complaints to get legitimate sellers taken offline. In this case, marketplace sellers were using Amazon ads to try and stand out from their competitors. Although Amazon makes the bulk of its money from e-commerce and selling computing infrastructure to businesses (Amazon Web Services), the company is also generating billions in ad revenue from companies who pay to have their products appear prominently in search results and other areas on the site. The company's "Other" business segment, which consists mostly of advertising revenue, booked $2.72 billion in the first quarter, showing growth of 36% from the previous year (although that's slower growth than it saw in most of 2018), and Amazon is now the number-three digital ad player in the U.S. after Google and Facebook, according to eMarketer. Sales loss One Amazon seller told CNBC that the sudden ad suspension has caused a serious loss in revenue. This seller requested anonymity because they feared Amazon would retaliate. This person has been selling apparel with Christian and bible messages on them for the last two years. The ads for these products described them as "Christian Fashion Gifts," and included photos of the items with biblical quotes and religious language on them. When the seller asked Amazon about the ad suspension, the company said the content of the ads violated its new policy. It also said that ads by other sellers that include similar language about religion would soon get taken down as well. "The other sellers who are currently advertising religious related Products are doing incorrect practice, which may lead to their account suspension," Amazon's rep told the seller in an email last week. This seller is concerned about losing sales because of the change. Ads are key to driving sales on Amazon because they give increased visibility on the site, but the new policy effectively bans all sellers of religious products from promoting their brands. This person's ads remain suspended as of Friday afternoon. "Our revenue on Amazon is directly connected with advertising we do, so this would be very detrimental to our business," this seller said in an email. Although this seller's ads were banned, there are still visible ads for some other religious products, such as bibles. Amazon told this seller, "Please know that our team is reviewing ads on a phase basis as there are millions of ads and removing all the ineligible ads would not be possible." This seller's incident was not unique. A number of different posts on Amazon's seller forum describe nearly identical interactions. One post from February, for example, said the seller was told that Amazon was "working to stop all advertising of religious items." Another post from last month said rosaries were prohibited from advertising because they are "religious in nature." When CNBC reached out to Amazon about these incidents this week, the company said its policies had not changed and implied that the ads should not have been taken down. In its ad policy page, Amazon states that it "prohibits content that advocates or demeans a religion. Ads may contain references to a specific religion or faith in a historical or fictional context if the primary purpose is to entertain." Also prohibited, among others, are political ads that campaign for or against certain politicians or political issues, and products related to cryptocurrencies or initial coin offerings, according to Amazon's ad policy page. The mistaken crackdown comes as tech giants are facing increased scrutiny over how they run their advertising platforms. Avoiding ads on controversial subjects could help Amazon avoid the criticism Facebook and Google have faced in recent years for their lax ad oversight policies. Facebook, for example, has updated its ad policy in 2017 following reports about the company allowing advertisers to target anti-Semitic keywords. Google also had to respond to a BuzzFeed report showing how it allowed the sale of ads targeting racist search terms. Both companies, have been criticized for their data collection policy and how user data is shared with other advertisers. "At Amazon Advertising, we believe maintaining a high customer experience bar for the ads we serve helps us drive better results for you, our advertisers," Amazon wrote in its ad policy page. Source
  17. Another former engineer has alleged that the company fired him over his political beliefs. Google has a growing problem with internal dissent that in many ways stems back to former employee James Damore (pictured) who was fired for publishing an internal memo in 2017 arguing that women are less biologically fit to work in tech than men. Google has had a challenging year. The company is already beleaguered by external scrutiny and criticism from politicians and the public over how it moderates content on its platforms. It’s facing an antitrust probe. And at the same time, it’s struggling internally to deal with rising tensions with both its liberal and conservative employees. On Thursday in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, a former Google engineer, Kevin Cernekee, accused Google of firing him for expressing his conservative political beliefs at work and claimed the company fosters a culture of politically biased bullying. While Google said it fired him for misusing company equipment, Cernekee’s claims have provided new fodder for conservative commentators and Republican legislators who have long made unsupported accusations that Google and other tech giants are liberal havens that discriminate against conservative ideology. Cernekee’s accusations have also reignited a debate among Google’s workforce over freedom of speech that began in 2017, when the company fired former engineer James Damore for publishing a memo arguing that women were less biologically suited than men to work in tech. Some of its liberal employees who were involved in organizing walkout protests last year accuse the company of retaliating against them for publicly demanding more ethical policies at work. Others are in line with Cernekee and are legally challenging the company over claims that it suppresses their speech and displays a bias against conservative workers. “We enforce our workplace policies without regard to political viewpoint. Lively debate is a hallmark of Google’s workplace culture; harassment, discrimination, and the unauthorized access and theft of confidential company information is not,” a Google spokesperson told Recode in response to Cernekee’s claims. There is no evidence that Google, Facebook, or any other major tech company is biased against conservative employees or conservative content. While it is true that most tech employees lean liberal in their personal beliefs, that doesn’t mean that their employers discriminate in the workplace, or in the products they build and maintain. Nevertheless, two years after the Damore memo and nine months after the walkouts, it’s clear Google’s problem around internal political dissent is only getting worse. It’s a big liability that’s fueling attacks from conservative politicians and even liberal ones, and it’s allowing them to advance their claims without any factual support. How Google got here Two years ago, Google faced a significant test on the limits of what speech the famously open company would tolerate within its rank and file. James Damore, a then-Google software engineer, posted a 10-page internal “anti-diversity” memo on an internal mailing list. In it, he criticized the company for trying to reverse the gender gap in tech — arguing instead that it should accept that women are biologically less capable of successfully working in the tech industry than men (a conclusion that has been disputed by the same scientists he cited in the memo). After the memo leaked and provoked an onslaught of internal and public criticism, the company fired Damore for violating the company’s code of conduct. CEO Sundar Pichai said at the time that to suggest that a group of workers “have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK.” Damore filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board and a class action lawsuit over his firing, but the NLRB dismissed his complaint and Damore moved his legal claim to private arbitration. While the memo was widely criticized internally when it was published, some Google employees remained sympathetic to Damore, arguing that he didn’t deserve to be fired. As BuzzFeed News reported last month, some conservative Google employees continue to vent their frustrations about the company’s alleged anti-conservative bias on a third-party anonymous message board, Blind. Republican politicians have been quick to jump on these reports, using them to justify their claims that internal biases also translate into Google’s products. These accusations are already having real consequences for Google. Last month, President Donald Trump, who regularly refers to tech companies being biased against Republicans, advanced a conspiracy theory put forth by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel on Fox News that Google was committing treason with the Chinese government; Trump threatened to investigate the company on the matter. And only a few weeks earlier, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) proposed a bill to rid Google, Facebook, and Twitter of supposed political bias. These are the kinds of challenges and regulatory threats that Google will only see more of in the years ahead — and so far, it hasn’t been able to effectively combat or stop these claims. The other side of the spectrum Other workers with radically different political beliefs from Damore have also accused Google of stifling political activity in the workplace. In the past year, Google has struggled to deal with criticism from employees over how it handles sexual harassment claims, the company’s military contract with the US government, and its secretive work on a censored version of Google search for China. Last November, after revelations that Google paid multi-million-dollar exit packages to executives being investigated for sexually harassing their subordinates, 20,000 employees across the world walked off the job in protest. It was a historic moment for the company and spurred several internal movements to push the company to reform its policies on forced arbitration and contract workers. But less than a year later, four of the seven walkout organizers have left the company. Two of them, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, have accused Google of retaliating against them for their internal activism. Several other employees, in previous interviews with Recode, have said they left the company in large part because they felt Google has not been responsive enough to concerns raised in the walkout and other protests. Most of these employees openly espouse progressive beliefs that are far removed from the politics of former colleagues like Damore and Cernekee. They would probably not want to have their political struggles lumped in the same category as conservative employees who have blamed their firings on politics. Regardless, both groups present two sides of the same challenge to Google’s management: how to deal with an increasingly vocal and growing group of dissenters to the company’s cultural status quo. How Google is responding For one thing, Google is already starting to limit its open policy on employee speech and dissent at work. According to multiple Google employees, the company has been holding fewer platforms for public discourse — specifically its once-weekly “TGIF” meetings, which are now held less frequently, closer to once a month, according to several employees. Googlers used to be able to ask management unplanned, ad-hoc questions at these meetings, but now they have to submit questions in advance that can get voted up or down. Only the questions that receive the most upvotes get asked, and some employees have told Recode they think this voting system is unfair because controversial questions are easily downvoted. One employee said that the top 10 questions are usually about noncontroversial product or business initiatives, and that more critical questions often don’t make it to the top despite being important concerns. Recordings of these TGIF meetings, which used to be available for employees to watch for up to three years, are now no longer available to watch after three weeks. Last year, Google rolled out a set of community guidelines to address what it viewed as an increase in uncivil interactions on its tens of thousands of internal mailing lists, according to the company. Google now also requires the owner of each internal mailing list group to moderate content posted in the group. And as BuzzFeed News reported in May, management has also increased efforts to crack down on internal leakers, threatening to fire workers for so much as searching for internal information on projects that aren’t in their purview. Google’s efforts to control its employees’ speech is a leviathan of a task for a company with nearly 100,000 global employees. No matter how many rules the company places on what Google workers can and can’t say, some employees are bound to break those rules. And as with the Damore and Cernekee cases, the company is vulnerable to accusations that it’s displaying political bias, particularly against conservative employees. It will remain up to the company to decide where it draws the line in policing the chatter of its internal public square, and how much outside political pressure shapes those standards. Source
  18. SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) said on Monday curbs on employees of Huawei Technologies and its subsidiaries have been lifted, and they would be allowed to participate in a peer review process for its research papers. The U.S.-based engineers’ association last week said it would bar Huawei staff from doing so, after the United States accused the company of being tied to China’s government and effectively banned U.S. companies from doing business with it for national security reasons. IEEE China said in a statement on its website it had decided to lift the restrictions after receiving further clarification from the U.S. Department of Commerce. “Our previous restrictive approach was wholly meant to protect our volunteers and members and to avoid relevant legal risks. After we received the relevant instructions, the legal risks were lifted,” it said. On Thursday, IEEE confirmed the restrictions and stressed that the curbs applied only to Huawei employees and peer review. It added that Huawei employees can continue to submit papers for publication and participate in the IEEE’s conferences. IEEE’s move last week was met with strong responses from China’s academic community. On Thursday, Beijing-based technology research group The China Computer Federation (CCF) said it would suspend communications with IEEE. One Peking University professor, Zhang Haixia, announced on social media that she would resign from the organization as a result of the restrictions. Source
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