31 May 2019
Scholars tell UC Berkeley to cut ties with Palantir
Berkeley Law hosted a top privacy and law conference this week. Since 2011 the conference has received sponsorship from Palantir and this year hundreds of academics decided they have had enough in light of the recent revelation that Palantir’s technology was used to separate families. Over 300 of them signed a letter put out by the Latinx advocacy group Mijente, calling on the event organizers to drop Palantir sponsorship.
The organizers refused. They argued that corporate sponsors like Palantir don’t have any influence on content or speakers. However, allowing Palantir to sponsor this event helps the company to polish its image, and thus undermines efforts to resist militarized surveillance against migrants and marginalized communities. It’s worth pointing out that the two primary organizers of the conference are also Palantir advisors.
This academic letter follows a series of actions from TWC volunteers, Stanford students and organizersseeking to stop Palantir from building tech that makes up the backbone of the racist enforcement of immigration policy.
We stand with everyone who has suffered from ICE’s brutal treatment of immigrants. We commit not to build or support technology that brutalize immigrant and marginalized.
TWC Bangalore Meetup
Saturday, 6/1 4PM at Obvious in Bengaluru
Seattle Writing Club at Broadcast Coffee in the CD
Sunday, 6/2 1PM
Sunday, 6/2 3PM at Sheep’s Meadow in New York
TWC (NYC): Contracts WTF?
Tuesday, 6/4 6:30PM at Verso Books in Brooklyn
The Code of Conduct is in effect at all TWC events.
In The News
Google pretends and markets its artificial intelligence product “Assistant” as magic. Far from either magic or AI, an army of subcontracted linguists labor on datasets that keep Assistant functioning. Many of them are low wage despite degrees and even PhDs in linguistics. They are the “white-collar sweatshop” workers who have been kicked off Google’s free shuttle and who are told never to log more than 40 hours while always feeling the pressure to work more than 40 hours. Also this week, a round up of Google’s misdemeanors and exploits against its “shadow workforce” was covered on page one of the New York Times; and yesterday the Times editorial board not only recognized tech worker organizing, but endorsed it as the only solution to corporation’s incessant priority of profit over fair work and wages for workers.
Amazon will end its current security officer contract to hire two union contractors, Allied Universal and Securitas. In the process over 1,000 security guards will lose their jobs.
Amazon shareholders rejected an employee led climate action plan with over 7,700 signed supporters.
Amazon and other employers are finding ways to “game-ify” low-wage, tedious work to manipulate workers’ productivity levels while keeping workers in the dark on the quotas and metrics they are being measured against.
Twitter formed an internal research team to investigate and “try to decide whether white supremacists should be allowed to express their views on the platform”.
Attempts by the EU’s European Commission to guard against disinformation and fake news spread on social media were foiled by Facebook and Google. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/facebook-and-google-pressured-eu-experts-soften-fake-news-regulations-say-insiders/
Tech execs latest plea against trust-busting is what they call “the China issue”: that the US government breaking up tech giants will result in a global Chinese takeover.
ICYMI follow the @GetWages project. TWC volunteers helped start the Get Back Lost Wages campaign to help gig economy workers file for wage theft claims.
Song Of The Week
A friend of mine dropped me a line
It said, “man, I gotta run to the USA I got no money, got no job” She skipped out of Mexico to stay alive
You’ve got a problem with her living here
But what did you do to help her before she fucking came?
What did the country do?
What did the people do?
I stand not by my country, but by people of the whole fucking world
No fences, no borders
Free movement for all