Google workers staged a worldwide walkout last year. James Martin/CNET Google workers on Friday held a town hall meeting to discuss alleged retaliation from the search giant over employees’ activism and organizing efforts. The company’s employees booked rooms for viewing the town hall from Google offices all over the world, according to an employee who attended the meeting. At the gathering, Google workers pledged to protect each other from retaliation and brainstormed ideas to help. Some of that action could take place as soon as next week, that employee said.That employee also said it was the first big town hall meeting that Google’s temporary workers, vendors and contractors — known as TVCs in Google parlance — were able to attend, since the gathering was held by employees and not management.The meeting was called after two workers who helped to organize a massive employee walkout said management was unfairly targeting them. In November, roughly 20,000 Googlers walked out of the company’s offices worldwide to protest its handling of sexual assault allegations directed at key executives. The demonstration drew international attention. One organizer, Meredith Whittaker, who leads Google’s Open Research program, said earlier this week that she was asked to choose between Google and her outside work. Whittaker co-founded New York University’s AI Now Institute, a research center that examines the societal effects of artificial intelligence. Whittaker said Google asked her to give up that work after the company disbanded its own AI ethics board last month amid controversy over one of its members. Claire Stapleton, a marketing manager at Google-owned YouTube, said she was told after the walkout she’d be demoted and lose half of her reports. She said she was also told to go on medical leave even though she wasn’t sick. Google only walked back her demotion after she hired a lawyer, Stapleton said. “Meredith and Claire were bold and unwavering,” the employee who attended said. “The support was overwhelming and it looks like the company’s misguided gamble to cut off the ‘head’ of the organizing against harassment, discrimination and unethical decision-making won’t work.”Google employees have largely been the poster children for protest in the tech industry — a sector where rank and file workers have historically refrained from publicly criticizing management. Aside from the handling of sexual assault accusations, Google workers have also protested the company’s military contracts, its work in China, and its treatment of temporary workers and contractors. Outside of Google, other tech workers have also been speaking up. At Amazon, thousands of workers signed a letter earlier this month that urged the company to reduce its carbon footprint and take action against climate change.The town hall meeting comes a day after Google released its workplace policy guidelines, including its rules on retaliation. Retaliation means taking an adverse action against an employee or TVC as a consequence of reporting, for expressing an intent to report, for assisting another employee in an effort to report, for testifying or assisting in a proceeding involving sexual harassment under any federal, state or local anti-discrimination law, or for participating in the investigation of what they believe in good faith to be a possible violation of our Code of Conduct, Google policy or the law. The section concludes by warning employees that not all complaints may meet that definition.”If you report something that is not a policy violation and you believe you are being treated adversely as a result, you should feel free to report that and we will look into it, but it may not amount to retaliation under this policy,” the guidelines say.Google declined to comment on the town hall, but a spokeswoman said the company prohibits retaliation and has a “very clear policy.” “To make sure that no complaint raised goes unheard at Google, we give employees multiple channels to report concerns, including anonymously, and investigate all allegations of retaliation,” the spokeswoman said. Post a comment Google employees protest tech giant’s handling of sexual… Share your voice 0 Google Alphabet Inc. 1:45 Tags Tech Industry Now playing: Watch this:
(PhysOrg.com) — Australian scientists have invented software that enables mobile (cell) phones to work in remote areas where there is no conventional coverage and in locations where the infrastructure has been destroyed through disaster, or is not economically viable. The technology enables ordinary mobile phones to make and receive calls without the need for phone towers or satellites. Director of the Research Centre for Disaster Resilience and Health at Flinders University, Professor Paul Arbon said the systems could prove invaluable in disasters, providing an instant network allowing people to call out and receive calls from concerned relatives, and helping volunteers to coordinate the response. The system could also provide the community with updates and warnings. The systems have been successfully tested in remote areas of the Flinders Ranges in South Australia where there is no mobile phone reception, with the three researchers creating a network over one square kilometer. The next stages in the project are to increase the range and improve sound quality. The team is also working on developing a method of dropping the temporary towers into disaster areas.Dr Gardner-Stephen said the system could be operational within 18 months provided the project receives adequate funding. He said his dream was for every mobile phone to be equipped with the system so that if there is a disaster all the phones in the region will automatically switch to the mesh network mode of operation as a fallback. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Verizon to allow Skype calls over wireless network More information: www.servalproject.org Paul Gardner-Stephen (left) talks with a colleague in the wilderness using his new system. Credit: Village Telco Explore further © 2010 PhysOrg.com Citation: New project enables mobile phone use in areas with no reception (2010, July 14) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2010-07-enables-mobile-areas-reception.html Leader of the team, Dr Paul Gardner-Stephen of Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia, named the project the Serval Project, after an African wildcat renowned for its problem-solving abilities. The aim is to “provide fast, cheap, robust and effective telecommunications systems” for areas where there is currently no telephone infrastructure, or where it has been destroyed by natural disasters or civil unrest. The project includes two systems that can operate separately or be combined. One is specifically for disaster areas, and consists of a temporary, self-organizing and self-powered mobile phone network that operates via small phone towers dropped into the area by aircraft. The second system consists of a permanent mesh-based phone network between Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones, with no tower infrastructure required. Eventually, the system will also include the “Batphone,” which will be a specially designed phone able to operate on other unlicensed frequencies.The systems use open-source software developed by the team and dubbed Distributed Numbering Architecture (DNA). The software allows mobile phones to make calls out and receive calls on their existing numbers. The mesh network technology was developed by Village Telco and is integrated with the software to create a mesh network in which each phone acts as an independent router.Dr Gardner-Stephen said the device essentially “incorporates a compact version of a mobile phone tower into the phone itself.” It uses the Wi-Fi interface in modern Wi-Fi-enabled phones, carrying voice over it in such a way that it does not need to go back to a tower anywhere. The current range between phones is only a few hundred meters, which limits the usefulness of the system in remote areas, but Gardner-Stephen said adding small transmitters and more devices could expand the range considerably. The real benefit of the current system would be in disaster areas where there are plenty of phones but the towers are destroyed or the infrastructure is no longer functioning. In the recent Haiti disaster area for example, the mobile phone network was knocked out for over two days after the earthquake struck, and did not return to normal operation for a week.