Google employees demand the end of forced arbitration across the tech industry

On the heels of an employee-led protest against Google, a group of 35 Google employees is banding together to take it a step further and end the practice of forced arbitration across the entire tech industry. Forced arbitration ensures workplace disputes are settled behind closed doors and without any right to an appeal. These types of […]

On the heels of an employee-led protest against Google, a group of 35 Google employees is banding together to take it a step further and end the practice of forced arbitration across the entire tech industry.

Forced arbitration ensures workplace disputes are settled behind closed doors and without any right to an appeal. These types of agreements effectively prevent employees from suing companies. Following the walkout last month, Google got rid of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and sexual assault claims, offering more transparency around those investigations and more. Airbnb, eBay and Facebook quickly followed suit.

However, optional arbitration at Google is only granted for full-time employees, which does not include the thousands of contract workers at the company. Now, a group of Google employees is demanding an end to forced arbitration, as it relates to any case of discrimination, across the entire industry.

As the employees note on Medium, arbitration is still forced for discrimination cases pertaining to race, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity, age and ability. Additionally, employee contracts in the U.S. still have an arbitration waiver, the employees wrote.

“We have not heard of any plan to render these waivers null and void,” employees wrote on Medium. “Google operates in 52 countries where arbitration laws vary, and leadership has not addressed these variances. What should we expect?”

Moving forward, they’re asking other tech workers to join them in their fight to end forced arbitration for all forms of harassment and discrimination. They’re also calling on elected officials to support the Arbitration Fairness Act, as well as Restoring Justice for Workers Act.

“We are already engaging with multiple organizations and can help connect the dots through educational materials and organizing resources,” they wrote. “2019 must be the year to end a system of privatized justice that impacts over 60 million workers in the US alone.”

I’ve reached out to Google and will update this story if I hear back.

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Whether you're looking for new tech gear or household items, we've got you covered.

There's never a shortage of deals available, but sorting through all of them can be difficult at times. We've handpicked all the best tech, and everyday essentials discounts that you can take advantage of right now and brought them to one central location. From Star Wars toys to wireless mice, these are today's best discounts!

Tech Deals

Everyday Essentials

If you want to know about the deals as soon as they are happening, you'll want to follow Thrifter on Twitter, and sign up for the newsletter, because missing out on a great deal stinks!

US tech giants decry Australia’s ‘deeply flawed’ new anti-encryption law

A group of U.S. tech giants, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, have collectively denounced the new so-called “anti-encryption” law passed by the Australian parliament last week. The bill was passed less than a day after the ruling coalition government secured the votes from opposition Labor lawmakers, despite strong objection from tech companies and telcos. “The […]

A group of U.S. tech giants, including Apple, Google and Microsoft, have collectively denounced the new so-called “anti-encryption” law passed by the Australian parliament last week.

The bill was passed less than a day after the ruling coalition government secured the votes from opposition Labor lawmakers, despite strong objection from tech companies and telcos.

“The new Australian law is deeply flawed, overly broad, and lacking in adequate independent oversight over the new authorities,” said the Reform Government Surveillance coalition in a statement. The tech companies added that the law would “undermine the cybersecurity, human rights, or the right to privacy of our users.”

It’s the latest rebuke since the bill’s passing, following an extensive lobbying effort by Silicon Valley to push back on the anti-encryption proposals.

The law allows Australian police and the intelligence agencies wide-reaching powers to issue “technical notices” — essentially forcing companies and even websites operating in Australia to help the government undermine encryption or insert backdoors at the behest of the government. Critics argue that there’s little oversight, potentially allowing abuse of the system. And because the notices will almost always be issued with a gag order, any technical notices are served behind closed doors in secret.

Companies that refuse to comply with the demands in a technical notice can be served heavy financial penalties.

The Australian government won in part by accusing Labor of using scare tactics, saying that the opposition party was choosing to “allow terrorists and pedophiles to continue their evil work in order to engage in point scoring,” said Australian defense minister Christopher Pyne, in a since-deleted tweet. Labor caved in to the pressure, and party leader Bill Shorten instructed his members to vote for the bill. He promised that the party would offer amendments to the law once passed in the coming months, while keeping “Australians safer over Christmas.”

The tech coalition said it’ll hold the Australian parliament’s feet to the fire, urging lawmakers to “promptly address these flaws when it reconvenes” in the new year.

The group, which also includes Dropbox, Facebook, Google and Yahoo parent company Oath (which also owns TechCrunch) — was set up after the companies were named in classified U.S. documents as participants in the secret National Security Agency program, dubbed PRISM. All of the companies denied their willing involvement, and began a collective effort to lobby the government to reform its surveillance operations — many of which rely on compelled assistance from tech companies and telcos.

Evernote, LinkedIn, Snap and Twitter, which weren’t named as PRISM partners, later joined the coalition, and also signed on to the letter.

Cisco and Mozilla joined other companies in separately filing complaints with Australian lawmakers ahead of the planned vote, arguing that the law “could do significant harm to the Internet.”

Xiaomi Teases Ridiculous 48-Megapixel Smartphone Camera

Xiaomi is looking to push the world of smartphone photography ahead a few leaps and bounds with the upcoming release of its 48-megapixel smartphone camera, as reported by Engadget. To give you a bit of an idea of how high-resolution that is, the Google Pixel 3, which is regarded by many to have the best smartphone camera on the market, features a 12.2-megapixel camera. The current record for a smartphone camera is 41-megapixels, set by the Nokia 1020 back in 2013, and that record has held strong over all of these years. Xiaomi makes all kinds of products, including the…

Read the full article: Xiaomi Teases Ridiculous 48-Megapixel Smartphone Camera

Xiaomi is looking to push the world of smartphone photography ahead a few leaps and bounds with the upcoming release of its 48-megapixel smartphone camera, as reported by Engadget. To give you a bit of an idea of how high-resolution that is, the Google Pixel 3, which is regarded by many to have the best smartphone camera on the market, features a 12.2-megapixel camera.

The current record for a smartphone camera is 41-megapixels, set by the Nokia 1020 back in 2013, and that record has held strong over all of these years.

Xiaomi makes all kinds of products, including the Xiaomi E20 Robot Vacuum, and this smartphone with a 48-megapixel camera could quickly become the device we all associate with the Chinese company.

What Do We Know About This 48-Megapixel Phone?

Unfortunately, there’s not a ton of information out there about this upcoming phone other than the fact that it has a positively massive camera.

Xiaomi co-founder Lin Bin took to Chinese social network Weibo to post an extreme close up photo of the camera lens with the text “48MP Camera” clearly visible in the picture. Bin definitely wanted to catch our attention by including that in the photo. Including something like a camera with such a high resolution is a great way to make a phone stand out in such a competitive market.

The list of things we don’t know about this phone is long—we don’t know the specs, the size of the screen, how much it’ll be, and more. But just knowing how crazy the camera is, it’s hard to avoid being at least a bit interested, and we definitely want to know more one Xiaomi is ready to announce the rest of the details.

When and Where Is This Phone Available?

Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly where this phone will be available or for how much. However, we know we won’t have to wait too long to find out more information, as the phone is slated to release in January of 2019, which is only a month away. To build hype, we’d expect Xiaomi to announce more information in short order.

If you decide to snag this new smartphone with its 48-megapixel camera, make sure you’re prepared with the skills you need to be a better smartphone photographer.

Read the full article: Xiaomi Teases Ridiculous 48-Megapixel Smartphone Camera

Google Fit gets improved activity logging and a breathing exercise

Google Fit, Google’ s activity-tracking app for Android, is getting a small but meaningful update today that adds a few new features that’ll likely make its regular users quite happy. Some are pretty basic, like the launch of a Fit widget for your Android home screen, while others introduce new features like a breathing exercise […]

Google Fit, Google’ s activity-tracking app for Android, is getting a small but meaningful update today that adds a few new features that’ll likely make its regular users quite happy. Some are pretty basic, like the launch of a Fit widget for your Android home screen, while others introduce new features like a breathing exercise (though that will only be available on Wear OS), an updated home screen in the app itself and improved activity logging.

The app got a major redesign earlier this year and in the process, Google introduced Heart Points as a way of tracking not just the length but also the strenuousness of your activities. Those are tracked automatically as you go about your day, but since Fit also lets you log activities manually, you didn’t really get a chance to log the intensity of those exercises. Now, however, you can adjust the intensity in your quest for getting more Heart Points.

The other major new feature is the exact opposite of strenuous exercise: a breathing exercise for those moments when you want to calm down. For some reason, Google decided that this feature is Wear OS-only right now. I’m not quite sure why that’s the case, but if you don’t have a Wear OS watch, you’ll just have to figure out some other way to keep calm and bugger on.