Connect with us

Technology

Age discrimination case against IBM in Texas leaks emails, docs via bad redaction • The Register

Voice Of EU

Published

on

An IBM age discrimination lawsuit filed in Texas last year has become a bit less opaque after The Register found an inadequately redacted court document that discusses plans to present evidence obtained from company emails and documents.

The case involves 16 former Big Blue employees who claim “IBM’s highest executives created and attempted to conceal a multi-faceted ‘fire-and-hire’ scheme with the ultimate goal of making IBM’s workforce younger.”

Since the publication of a 2018 report by ProPublica and Mother Jones alleging systematic efforts within IBM to get rid of older employees and findings to that effect by the United States’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there have been multiple lawsuits against IBM claiming that the IT titan engaged in a pattern of discriminatory behavior.

There’s a case underway in New York involving several former IBM employees. Last April, another case in Texas involving plaintiff Jonathan Langley was unexpectedly dismissed – and presumably settled.

The current Texas claim, Kinney et al v. International Business Machines Corporation, is being handled by some of the same attorneys in the Langley case and The Register understands that some previously unearthed executive communications could play a role in the latest litigation.

The Kinney case faces two legal obstacles. The first involves convincing the judge that employees’ arbitration agreements with IBM were the result of fraud and thus should not prevent them from suing in court.

The second involves convincing the judge that the plaintiffs should be able to sue in Texas rather than in the places where they worked, an argument the judge rejected in a previous ruling that the plaintiffs’ legal team is trying to reverse.

Someone’s an April fool

An April court filing, a reply to IBM’s partial motion to dismiss the case because some plaintiffs don’t reside in Texas, provides the court with “a snapshot of IBM documents that support a denial of IBM’s jurisdictional challenge.”

The filing is supposed to be redacted, with black bars through various sensitive passages in the text. But the redaction, typically done with a redaction tool in an application like Adobe Acrobat Pro, didn’t take. The underlying text can be viewed by copying the obscured passage and pasting the results into a word-processing application.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys present the judge with a preview of their evidence against Big Blue. Take the passage below, for example, which seeks to illustrate that Texas is an appropriate venue for the case by claiming that IBM’s hiring strategy focused on locations where younger workers might be hired more easily. It quotes internal IBM documents that will be used in evidence and were supposed to be redacted for now.

We’ve replaced the document’s intended redactions with strikethrough text.

The court filing asserts that IBM executives deliberately orchestrated the simultaneous firing and hiring of several thousand employees at strategic locations to meet their specific goals. It continued, quoting internal email messages:

The filing further alleges that IBM’s location-based hiring strategy is being driven by “approximately six ‘senior level decision makers.'” It mentions another email chain that talks about using computer modeling to make “broad brush recommendations for remix/reskill” efforts, characterizing those terms as code for making business units younger overall.

And it cites IBM spreadsheet column headings that “can reasonably be expected to correlate with – or even serve as a dog whistle for – age: ‘Band‘ level, ‘Time_In_Band_Yrs,‘ ‘Salary Band Date,‘ ‘Tenure,‘ ‘PBC_Date,‘ ‘Tech Capability Gap,‘ and ‘Tech Capability Expected Level.‘”

The most recent filing in the Texas case comes from IBM, which argued about two weeks ago that there’s no basis for the court to reverse its decision to transfer the case to jurisdictions appropriate for the plaintiffs.

IBM, still dealing with an email disruption that was supposed to be fixed by now, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company in the past has denied discriminating on the basis of age. ®

Source link

Technology

UK competition watchdog unveils advice for antivirus firms • The Register

Voice Of EU

Published

on

The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has unveiled compliance principles to curb locally some of the sharper auto-renewal practices of antivirus software firms.

The move follows the watchdog baring its teeth at McAfee and Norton over the issue of automatically renewing contracts.

The CMA took exception to auto-renewal contracts for antivirus software that customers in the UK signed up for and found difficult to cancel. Refunds and clearer pricing information (including making sure consumers were aware that year two could well end up considerably costlier than the first) were the order of the day.

Today’s principles build on that work, and are aimed at helping antivirus companies toe the line where UK consumer law is concerned. They are a bit more detailed than a simple “stop being horrid.”

The focus remains on auto-renewing contracts, where a customer signs up for a fixed period, then is charged again for subsequent periods. The CMA acknowledges that such arrangements are convenient, but they risk the consumer being locked into an agreement they no longer want or that they get stung with higher fees at renewal time.

While the principles are intended to be helpful, lurking in the background is consumer law and the threat of a potential trip to court for vendors stepping out of line.

First up comes a requirement to make sure customers are informed about auto-renewal, rather than hiding the detail in an End User Licence Agreement (EULA) or burying it in hard-to-read text through which a user must scroll.

Price claims must be “accurate” and “not mislead your customers” – so only show discounts against the normal price. It must also be possible to turn off the auto-renew easily, keep auto-renew turned off once it is off and, if on, make sure customers are reminded in good time that an auto-renew will happen.

Getting a refund must be easier and customers should be able to change their mind when auto-renewal happens. If the customer has stopped using the product, safeguards are needed around auto-renewal.

The last principle could pose a few challenges – how does a vendor become aware that a customer is not using its product? The suggestion from the CMA is to check if software updates are being received rather than simply charging users year after year.

The Register contacted McAfee and Norton for their thoughts on the principles, and will update should the companies respond. ®

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

Grocery start-up Gorillas raises nearly $1bn in round led by Delivery Hero

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Just a few months after hitting unicorn status, Gorillas has raised another major round of funding from big-name investors.

German start-up Gorillas has raised nearly $1bn to expand its on-demand grocery delivery business.

The Series C funding round was led by Delivery Hero, the German food and grocery delivery giant that recently took a stake in Deliveroo.

Gorillas also received backing from existing investors including Coatue Management, DST Global and Tencent, as well as new investors G Squared, Alanda Capital, Macquarie Capital, MSA Capital and Thrive Capital.

The fresh funding comes just a few months after the company’s $290m Series B, which brought its valuation to more than $1bn.

Gorillas was founded in Berlin in 2020 by Kağan Sümer and Jörg Kattner, promising grocery deliveries in as little as 10 minutes.

It now operates more than 180 warehouses and has expanded to more than 55 cities in nine countries, including Amsterdam, London, Paris, Madrid, New York and Munich.

The company plans to use the latest funding for its next phase of development. This includes reinforcing its footprint in existing markets and investing in operations, technology and marketing.

“The size of today’s funding round by an extraordinary investment consortium underscores the tremendous market potential that lies ahead of us,” said Sümer, who is CEO of the start-up.

“With Delivery Hero, we have chosen a strong strategic support that is deeply rooted in the global delivery market, and is renowned for having unique experience in sustainably scaling a German company internationally.”

On-demand grocery delivery is a growing area in Europe that’s attracting investor attention.

Swedish start-up Kavall raised $5.8m in August, Czech player Rohlik hit unicorn status after its €100m Series C round in July, and Spain’s Glovo secured a €450m Series F round in April to expand in the grocery market.

Gorillas differentiates itself from other players in the market, such as Deliveroo, by employing its delivery drivers rather than relying on gig workers.

However, as the start-up has scaled rapidly over the past year, it has seen delivery workers protest over working conditions and pay, and been put under the spotlight for its treatment of employees.

Don’t miss out on the knowledge you need to succeed. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of need-to-know sci-tech news.

Source link

Continue Reading

Technology

ICO to step in after schools use facial recognition to speed up lunch queue | Facial recognition

Voice Of EU

Published

on

The Information Commissioner’s Office is to intervene over concerns about the use of facial recognition technology on pupils queueing for lunch in school canteens in the UK.

Nine schools in North Ayrshire began taking payments for school lunches this week by scanning the faces of their pupils, according to a report in the Financial Times. More schools are expected to follow.

The ICO, an independent body set up to uphold information rights in the UK, said it would be contacting North Ayrshire council about the move and urged a “less intrusive” approach where possible.

An ICO spokesperson said organisations using facial recognition technology must comply with data protection law before, during and after its use, adding: “Data protection law provides additional protections for children, and organisations need to carefully consider the necessity and proportionality of collecting biometric data before they do so.

“Organisations should consider using a different approach if the same goal can be achieved in a less intrusive manner. We are aware of the introduction, and will be making inquiries with North Ayrshire council.”

The company supplying the technology claimed it was more Covid-secure than other systems, as it was cashless and contactless, and sped up the lunch queue, cutting the time spent on each transaction to five seconds.

Other types of biometric systems, principally fingerprint scanners, have been used in schools in the UK for years, but campaigners say the use of facial recognition technology is unnecessary.

Silkie Carlo, the director of Big Brother Watch, told the Guardian the campaign group had written to schools using facial recognition systems, setting out their concerns and urging them to stop immediately.

“No child should have to go through border-style identity checks just to get a school meal,” she said. “We are supposed to live in a democracy, not a security state.

“This is highly sensitive, personal data that children should be taught to protect, not to give away on a whim. This biometrics company has refused to disclose who else children’s personal information could be shared with and there are some red flags here for us.”

The technology is being installed in schools in the UK by a company called CRB Cunninghams. David Swanston, its managing director, told the FT: “It’s the fastest way of recognising someone at the till. In a secondary school you have around about a 25-minute period to serve potentially 1,000 pupils. So we need fast throughput at the point of sale.”

Live facial recognition, technology that scans crowds to identify faces, has been challenged by civil rights campaigners because of concerns about consent. CRB Cunninghams said the system being installed in UK schools was different – parents had to give explicit consent and cameras check against encrypted faceprint templates stored on school servers.

A spokesperson for North Ayrshire council said its catering system contracts were coming to a natural end, allowing the introduction of new IT “which makes our service more efficient and enhances the pupil experience using innovative technology”.

They added: “Given the ongoing risks associated with Covid-19, the council is keen to have contactless identification as this provides a safer environment for both pupils and staff. Facial recognition has been assessed as the optimal solution that will meet all our requirements.”

The council said 97% of children or their parents had given consent for the new system.

A Scottish government spokesperson said that local authorities, as data controllers, had a duty to comply with general data protection regulations and that schools must by law adhere to strict guidelines on how they collect, store, record and share personal data.

Hayley Dunn, a business leadership specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “There would need to be strict privacy and data protection controls on any companies offering this technology.

“Leaders would also have legitimate concerns about the potential for cyber ransomware attacks and the importance of storing information securely, which they would need reassurances around before implementing any new technology.”

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!