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Posts tagged ‘Lawsuit’

Former Google Engineer Says Bro-Culture Led To Repeated Sexual Harassment

 

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 A  software engineer who worked at Google for seven years and fired in February 2016, is suing Google for sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and wrongful termination. The engineer says in her lawsuit that the company’s “bro-culture” led to continuous harassment and that Google did nothing to intervene. 

Throughout her time at Google, she was routinely sexually harassed, according to her lawsuit. She stated male coworkers spiked her drinks with alcohol and shot nerf guns at her regularly, and she says one male co-worker messaged her to ask for a “horizontal hug.” At a holiday party, Lee’s lawsuit says, a male co-worker slapped her across the face while he was intoxicated.

In one particularly disturbing incident detailed in the lawsuit,  a male coworker hiding under her desk when she returned after a short break. He refused to say what he was doing, the lawsuit says. “The incident with the co-worker under her desk really shocked her and had her nervous. The Plaintiff had never spoken to that co-worker before. She was frightened by his comment and believed he may have installed some type of camera or similar device under her desk,” the lawsuit says. Google’s human resources department pressured Lee during a series of meetings to make a formal complaint about the incident. However, her claims were found to be “unsubstantiated,” emboldening her coworkers to continue the harassment after she complained whereby, co-workers retaliated making it difficult for her to perform. She was subsequently terminated. 

This lawsuit is reminiscent of those raised last year by the engineer who blew the whistle about systemic sexual harassment at Uber. 

The treatment of women has put Google on the hot seat in recent months. It’s being sued by women who allege Google pays them less than men and investigated by the Labor Department into what it says is “systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.” Google says its own analysis of employee compensation shows no gender pay gap. 

At the same time, Google has encountered resistance from within its own ranks to diversity efforts to hire more women and people of color. 

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Waymo vs Uber Revolves Around Allegations of Deceit, Betrayal, espionage & A High-Tech Heist

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Waymo sued Uber, accusing it of ripping off key pieces of its self-driving car  technology in 2016. Uber paid $680 million for a startup run by Anthony Levandowski, one of the top engineers in a robotic vehicle project that Google began in 2009 and later became in Waymo.

Google was also an early investor in Uber, the relationship eventually soured. Its parent company Alphabet also owns Waymo.

Waymo has drawn a sordid picture, contending that Levandowski stole thousands of documents containing Google trade secrets before defecting to Uber. Waymo says Levandowski conspired with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick to use the pilfered technology in Uber’s own fleet of self-driving cars.

Uber has boldly denied the allegations in the civil case, which has also triggered a criminal investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. It’s not clear whether that probe is focused on Uber or Levandowski, who has consistently exercised his right against self-incrimination and is expected to do so again if called to testify during the trial.

Levandowski’s refusal to relinquish his Fifth Amendment rights eventually led Uber to fire him last May, even though he had developed a close relationship with Kalanick.

The stakes in the trial are humongous. Waymo is demanding damages estimated at nearly $2 billion. It also wants a court order that would prevent Uber from using any of the technology that it says was stolen, a move that could hobble the ride-hailing service’s push to design self-driving cars.

The courtroom drama will feature an intriguing cast of characters. The list of expected witnesses includes both the combative Kalanick and Silicon Valley venture capitalist Bill Gurley, an early Uber backer who later helped engineer Kalanick’s departure as Uber’s CEO. (Kalanick resigned under pressure last June.)

Two of the world’s richest people, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, may also be called to testify about the importance of Waymo’s self-driving project and Levandowski’s role in it.

Both Waymo and Uber each will have only have a total of 16 hours to make their case. That time restraint could prove more daunting for Waymo. It will have to educate a 10-person jury about the intricacies of the eight trade secrets that Uber is accused of stealing, then prove the ride-hailing service used the technology in its vehicles or improperly shared it with others.

The lawsuit has already established internal documents and sworn testimony that exposed spying programs and other shady tactics deployed by Uber to expand its business.

Furthermore, Uber has acknowledged allowing rampant sexual harassment to occur within its ranks, a yearlong cover-up of a major computer break-in and a $100,000 ransom paid to the hackers, and the use of duplicitous software to thwart government regulators.

U.S. District Judge William Alsup has emphasized that Waymo faces the difficult challenge of proving that the ride-hailing service used stolen technology in its self-driving cars.

 

Amazon Faces Lawsuit For Defective Eclispe Glasses

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A South Carolina couple has filed a federal class-action lawsuit claiming Amazon sold defective eclipse-watching glasses that partially blinded them during the historic coast-to-coast solar eclipse on August 21. the couple states in their lawsuit that because of the eyewear Payne purchased from Amazon, the couple is now suffering from “blurriness, a central blind spot, increased sensitivity, changes in perception of color, and distorted vision.”

Amazon issued a recall of defective and perhaps counterfeit eclipse eyewear in an e-mail sent out to customers before the event. Payne said he did not receive the message. His suit seeks to represent others who were injured or may be injured from the eyewear purchased on Amazon. The alleged Tennessee-based maker of the glasses, American Paper Optics, is not named in the suit.”Amazon’s August 19, 2017 e-mail ‘recall’ was tragically too little, too late. Its e-mail notification was insufficient to timely apprise customers of the defective nature of their glasses, and resulted in Plaintiffs and members of the proposed class using defective Eclipse Glasses,” according to the lawsuit. (PDF)

The suit seeks funds “for medical monitoring” because “Plaintiffs and members of the proposed class have or will experience varying degrees of eye injury ranging from temporary discomfort to permanent blindness.” The suit also demands unspecified monetary damages, punitive damages, and legal fees and costs.

 

Google and Viacom Were Sued On Behalf Of Kids Who Had Visited The Nick.com Site

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Google and Viacom both faced a class-action lawsuit that claimed Nickelodeon’s Nick.com placed cookies on children under-13 computers and that Google used those cookies to work out which videos kids had watched and the games they played to dish out targeted ads.

It’s against US law to gather information from children under-13 personal without warning parents and getting their permission; it’s claimed that permission was never sought.

However, the appeals court said Google was not liable as even though it served up ads to kids, it did not collect their info directly: it was given the data by Viacom’s Nick.com servers.

Viacom was also largely let off, as the court said that the data gathered was deemed not specific enough to be personally identifying.

In absolving Google, the appeals court drew a parallel to case that inspired the Video Privacy Protection Actthe leaking of Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork’s video rental history. Just as the court ruled that the Washington Post was not liable for receiving and publishing Bork’s rental history from the video store, Google is not liable for receiving the IP address and browsing history Viacom’s cookies collected.

 

Vizio TV Manufacturer Agreed To Pay $2.2 million

 

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The California-based TV manufacturer agreed to pay $2.2 million to settle the charges and  disclose when and how it collects user information. Since February 2014, software installed on the televisions allowed Vizio to continuously collect customer’s viewing history through software called “ACR,” or automated content recognition. This software captures a selection of pixels displayed on Vizio smart TV screens and sends that data to the company’s servers, where those pixels are compared to a database of different TV shows, movies, and commercials. ACR can also collect information like your Wi-Fi signal strength, nearby Wi-Fi access points, and IP addresses.

The complaint alleges that over 100 billion data points per day (information like what content you’re watching and how long you’re watching it) from more than 10 million Vizio televisions have been collected, and the company planned to store this data on their servers indefinitely. A stipulated federal court order requires that Vizio delete all data collected before March 1, 2016. An anonymized version of the data omitting customers’ name or contact information was sold to third parties for advertising and audience measurement purposes.

 FTC’s complaint said Vizio did not make it clear to customers that they intended to collect their TV viewing history, and the collection was turned on by default, which did not give customers a chance to opt out. A key part of the complaint is that Vizio promised customers recommendations based on the data collected, but never provided them to owners of older Vizio TVs

If you own a Vizio TV, you can disable data collection by going to your TV’s Menu > Settings > Smart Interactivity, or any option with Automated Content Recognition, and turning it off.

LinkedIn Sued

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LinkedIn, the social network for professionals, is being sued  by users who claim the company hacked into their email address books. Users who are a part of the lawsuit say the company emailed their contacts on their behalf and invited recipients to join the network.

They want the federal judge in San Jose, California, to force LinkedIn to put an end to this behavior as well as to return any revenue they may have earned from advertisers by promoting the service to non users. The complaint even points to LinkedIn’s website as evidence, noting multiple users have criticized the network after several of their contacts received unsolicited invitation emails.

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In a   blog post, LinkedIn denounces the arguments and says they never email contacts without a user’s permission.The complaint also points to a former LinkedIn employee who used his profile to brag about his job which allowed him to devise “hack schemes to make lots of $$$ with Java, Groovy and cunning.” According to a LinkedIn spokesperson, the engineer in question left in May 2012.

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