Megacorporations Watch Thread

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Yuli Ban
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Amazon tracks warehouse workers' every move because Jeff Bezos thinks people are inherently lazy, report says
Many of Amazon's policies were designed to prevent workers from becoming lazy, a former vice president told The New York Times.

David Niekerk, who helped design the company's warehouse-management system, told the publication that founder Jeff Bezos' belief that people are inherently lazy helped shape the company's policies.

Bezos believed that workers' desire to perform well decreased over time and that an entrenched workforce was a "march to mediocrity," Niekerk told The Times.

"What he would say is that our nature as humans is to expend as little energy as possible to get what we want or need," Niekerk told The Times.

He pointed to a short-term employment model that doesn't provide employees many opportunities for advancement and to the way Amazon used technology to keep workers on task. Amazon doesn't guarantee wage increases after a worker's first three years, the report said, as a way to oust employees who might become too comfortable at Amazon or turn "disgruntled."

The practices that Niekerk described are some of the company's most contentious — like firing employees for a single day of low productivity and continually keeping workers on task with limited break time and high productivity goals.

The practices have left many workers feeling as if Amazon treats them more like machines than people, The Times reported.
You know the sad part is, I completely agree with Bezos. I 100% understand why Amazon acts like this. But burning out workers and fostering so much antipathy isn't the way to do this.

I never thought of Bezos as a "kill the poor" kind of guy. I see in him the same sort of robo-optimism that a lot of us here share. The idea that we'll one day have robots doing all this, optimizing labor and industry to create endless luxury. Except he has the wealth and capital to run Amazon to get there, and in order to keep Amazon at the top, he has to make the human workers behave more like robots. He has the power to do the things I myself often think about. When I work at the store, I often do slack off and find myself avoiding the cameras to do so, and I wonder often, "If they had more cameras and BCIs or at least some biometric scanner on me, they'd be able to keep me going at this from minute 1 till I clock out." That would certainly make the store better if that's how it was run, but I assure you no one would want to work there. It does pique my interest to know that I'm not original in these thoughts. But it is distressing to see them come to life.

It's a very ruthless gambit that will probably pay off regardless, but it serves few well.
And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
caltrek
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Consumer Product Safety Commission Sues Amazon for Selling Dangerous Products
by Chris Isidore
July 15, 2021

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/news/cp ... uxbndlbing

Introduction:
(CNN via MSN) The US Consumer Product Safety Commission says Amazon is selling hazardous products to its customers. The federal safety watchdog is suing Amazon to stop.

Among the products cited in the suit are carbon monoxide detectors that fail to alarm, numerous children's pajamas that could catch fire and nearly 400,000 hair dryers that could electrocute people if dropped in water.

The action is another sign of a far more aggressive stance by the CPSC this year. In the past the agency has often pulled its punches rather than push a court fight with companies it believes sell dangerous products.

The products cited are not sold directly by Amazon — they're sold by third parties using Amazon's platform. Many of those companies that sold the dangerous products cited by CPSC are foreign, and the CPSC has limited ability to force a recall of their products if they are found to be hazardous.

The CPSC said cracking down on Amazon is the only way to keep consumers safe from these products.
weatheriscool
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Post by weatheriscool »

3 tech giants report combined profits of more than $50B

By Associated Press
Today at 7:00 p.m. EDT

Three tech companies -- Apple, Microsoft and Google owner Alphabet -- reported combined profits of more than $50 billion in the April-June quarter, underscoring their unparalleled influence and success at reshaping the way we live.

Although these companies make their money in different ways, the results served as another reminder of the clout they wield and why government regulators are growing increasingly concerned about whether they have become too powerful.

The massive profits pouring into each company also illustrated why they have a combined market value of $6.4 trillion -- more than double their collective value when the COVID-19 pandemic started 16 months ago.
APPLE

{snip}

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business ... story.html
caltrek
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Alibaba Fires Ten Employees for Leaking Details of Sexual Assault
by Coco Liu and Zheping Huang
August 30, 2021

https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2021/ ... al-assault

Introduction:
(Bloomberg via Al Jazeera) Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has dismissed 10 staffers for publicizing an employee’s account of sexual assault allegations against a former manager, people familiar with the matter said, as the e-commerce giant moves to resolve a case that’s rocked China’s tech establishment.

Alibaba announced internally last week it fired the group for sharing a harrowing account posted on an internal forum by a colleague surnamed Zhou, who accused a former manager of rape. Their offenses include sharing screenshots of the woman’s post in the public domain after removing watermarks that bore their IDs, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing an internal matter. Another three people have been reprimanded for making inappropriate comments in public forums, they added.

Zhou’s account went viral this month and turned China’s No. 2 company into the highest-profile symbol of abuses regarded as prevalent throughout Chinese businesses and tech firms, the by-product of an environment that often prioritizes achievement over culture. Alibaba has dismissed the accused manager and accepted the resignations of two senior executives, acting after the case sparked debate about sexism in corporate circles.

Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang has acknowledged his company’s handling of the complaint was a “humiliation.” Zhou’s account of being forced to drink excessively and getting harassed during and after a dinner with clients has aroused widespread sympathy for her plight, including internally.

But Alibaba had little choice but to fire the 10 employees in question because they violated very strict policies against exposing content carried on employee forums, the people said. The internal platform — which is open to Alibaba’s 250,000 employees as well as many at fintech giant Ant Group Co. — is considered off-limits and the company has fired others for leaking information in the past, they added. Alibaba representatives didn’t immediately respond to a written request for comment.
caltrek
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Google Appeals French Copyright Talks Fine
by Natasha Lomas
September 1, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/01/googl ... alks-fine/

Introduction:
(TechCrunch) Google is appealing the more than half a billion dollar fine it got slapped with by France’s competition authority in July.

The penalty relates to the adtech giant’s approach toward paying news publishers for content reuse.

In a statement today, Sebastien Missoffe, a Google France VP and country manager, characterized the fine as “disproportionate” — claiming that the $592M penalty is not justified in light of Google’s “efforts” to cut a deal with news publishers and comply with updated copyright rules. Which reads like fairly weak sauce, as defence statements go.

“We are appealing the French Competition Authority’s decision which relates to our negotiations between April and August 2020. We disagree with a number of legal elements, and believe that the fine is disproportionate to our efforts to reach an agreement and comply with the new law,” wrote Missoffe, adding: “Irrespective of this, we recognize neighboring rights and we continue to work hard to resolve this case and put deals in place. This includes expanding offers to 1,200 publishers, clarifying aspects of our contracts, and we are sharing more data as requested by the French Competition Authority in their July Decision.”

Back in 2019, the European Union agreed on an update to digital copyright rules which extended cover to the ledes of news stories — snippets of which aggregators such as Google News had for years routinely scraped and displayed.
caltrek
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Re: Megacorporations Watch Thread

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'America Has a Monopoly Problem': Coalition Backs Legislation to Break Up Big Tech

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/ ... k-big-tech

Introduction:
(Common Dreams) Government watchdog Public Citizen led dozens of organizations on Thursday in calling on Congress to pass several pieces of legislation to rein in the power of powerful tech companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google—bills that represent the interests of a majority of Americans, polls show.

The groups—which also included Jobs With Justice, the Center for Popular Democracy, and New York Communities for Change—said congressional leaders should pass six bills that were "carefully crafted to address the abusive practices of the Big Tech companies" following a two-year investigation by the House Judiciary Committee.

After conducting 10 hearings and 240 interviews and pouring over 1.3 million documents, the committee compiled a 450-page report concluding that "Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook each possess significant market power over large swaths of our economy" and "that there is a clear and compelling need for Congress and the antitrust enforcement agencies to take action that restores competition, improves innovation, and safeguards our democracy."

"America has a monopoly problem," the groups said Thursday in their letter (pdf). "Reining in these companies is an essential first step to reverse the damage of concentrated corporate power throughout our economy."

The groups cited research (pdf) showing how Amazon now controls over 35% of e-commerce in the U.S.—forcing other sellers to rely on Amazon to reach their own customers and "laying waste to a once diverse marketplace"—and detailing Facebook and Google's attacks on the free press by diverting "ad revenue away from publishers and into their own pockets."
caltrek
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Re: Megacorporations Watch Thread

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Mega-corporations result in super wealthy individuals. So the article below belongs in this thread.

Tax the Trillion Dollar Seven
by Bob Lord
September 1, 2021

https://otherwords.org/tax-the-trillion-dollar-seven/

Introduction:
(Other Words) The collective wealth of the seven wealthiest Americans has now reached nearly $1 trillion. And these seven pay virtually nothing in income tax.

According to Forbes, the collective wealth of these seven men — Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Larry Ellison — stood at $996 billion at the end of the day on August 25.

That’s a group small enough to fit an SUV.

Think about that. Just seven guys now control about $1 trillion in wealth — that’s about one-third the $3.5-trillion package now before Congress for desperately needed programs that range from dental and vision care for seniors to child tax credits for rescuing millions of families from poverty and measures that can save our burning planet from climate change.

Some vilify that social spending as “unaffordable.” But it turns out that one third of the tab could be covered by the wealth of just 0.0000022 percent of the U.S. population — seven guys in one SUV.
caltrek
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Re: Megacorporations Watch Thread

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Apple's Dangerous Path
by Lucas Matney
September 4, 2021

https://techcrunch.com/2021/09/04/apple ... rous-path/

Introduction:
(TechCrunch) In the past month, Apple did something it generally has done an exceptional job avoiding — the company made what seemed to be an entirely unforced error.

In early August — seemingly out of nowhere** — the company announced that by the end of the year they would be rolling out a technology called NeuralHash that actively scanned the libraries of all iCloud Photos users, seeking out image hashes that matched known images of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). For obvious reasons, the on-device scanning could not be opted out of.

This announcement was not coordinated with other major consumer tech giants, Apple pushed forward on the announcement alone.

Researchers and advocacy groups had almost unilaterally negative feedback for the effort, raising concerns that this could create new abuse channels for actors like governments to detect on-device information that they regarded as objectionable. As my colleague Zack noted in a recent story, “The Electronic Frontier Foundation said this week it had amassed more than 25,000 signatures from consumers. On top of that, close to 100 policy and rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, also called on Apple to abandon plans to roll out the technology.”
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Yuli Ban
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Re: Megacorporations Watch Thread

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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future
caltrek
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon May 17, 2021 1:17 pm

Re: Megacorporations Watch Thread

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Federal Trade Commission Releases Findings on How Big Tech Eats Little Tech
by Margaret Harding McGill
September 17, 2021

https://www.axios.com/ftc-tech-acquisit ... bd281.html

Introduction:
(Axios) Federal Trade Commission chair Lina Khan signaled changes are on the way in how the agency scrutinizes acquisitions after revealing the results of a study of a decade's worth of Big Tech company deals that weren't reported to the agency.

Why it matters: Tech's business ecosystem is built on giant companies buying up small startups, but the message from the antitrust agency this week could chill mergers and acquisitions in the sector.

What they found: The FTC reviewed 616 transactions valued at $1 million or more between 2010 and 2019 that were not reported to antitrust authorities by Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Microsoft.
  • 94 of the transactions actually exceeded the dollar size threshold that would require companies to report a deal. The deals may have qualified for other regulatory exemptions.
  • 79% of transactions used deferred or contingent compensation to founders and key employees, and nearly 77% involved non-compete clauses.
  • 36% of the transactions involved assuming some amount of debt or liabilities.
What they're saying: In a statement, Khan said the report shows that loopholes may be "unjustifiably enabling deals to fly under the radar."
  • Matt Stoller, director of research at the American Economic Liberties Project, said the high percentage of non-compete clauses was especially troubling.
  • "If nothing else, it's a clear anticompetitive intent to just take talent and prevent them from competing with you," Stoller said. "And there is a limited amount of tech talent."
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