Google is receiving major backlash for violating U.S. labor laws, as the tech giant has illegally underpaid thousands of temporary workers since 2019.
In 2019, the New York Times published a report describing Google’s then-121,000 temporary workers as “a shadow work force that now outnumbers the company’s full-time employees.”
Now, a new investigation from The Guardian is leaving no details behind, as it exposes Google’s treatment of temporary staff, noting that “Google has been illegally underpaying thousands of temporary workers in dozens of countries and delayed correcting the pay rates for more than two years as it attempted to cover up the problem.”
The Guardian explained that it has gotten a hold of official documents that confirms Google’s acknowledgment about this issue since it was brought to light in 2019, and “rather than immediately correct the errors, the company dragged its feet for more than two years, the documents show, citing concern about the increased cost to departments that rely heavily on temporary workers, potential exposure to legal claims, and fear of negative press attention.”
It doesn’t end here.
Recently, a whistleblower has come forward to file a lawsuit with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) stating that gaps in pay between temporary workers and full-timers are responsible for conducting the same work has largely increased over the years, widening far enough to the point where Google went against labor laws in the UK, Europe, and Asia.
Represented by lawyers from Whistleblower Aid, the anonymous whistleblower is claiming that the search giant deceived U.S. investors by not being transparent about the legal and financial liabilities that pose multiple challenges abroad.
In a statement reported by the Times, Google chief compliance officer Spyro Karetsos stated that “It’s clear that this process has not been handled consistent with the high standards to which we hold ourselves as a company…We’re going to figure out what went wrong here, why it happened, and we’re going to make it right.”
The issue began back in 2012 and 2013, when Google set the salaries of full-time roles in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and the Asia/Pacific region in 2017. However, the tech giant failed to update the salaries later on.
Hence, the HR departments responsible for finding temporary workers to fill in these roles were utilizing outdated data that wasn’t matching the increasing wages for full-time employees, up until the compliance managers took notice.
The complaint explains that Google continued to use the outdated rates even though the managers were going back and forth over the issue. The lawsuit also claims the amount of money Google owes in more than 16 countries over the last nine years reached over $100 million.
Currently, there’s no official statement from the SEC whether investigations are ongoing or not. Yet, if Google is faced with a fine, then this issue could cost the tech gorilla even more than what it could’ve paid.
Google illustrations has just upped the tech giant’s game
If you’re not keen on placing your personal picture on your Google profile, or even if you find it difficult to find a picture that represents who you are, the search giant just found the perfect solution for you.
Google has recently published a number of images under the name Google Illustrations, providing a wide variety of pictures representing animals, technology, and even space figures.
“The new library of illustrations indicates that Google is taking a different approach from avatars like Snap’s Bitmoji or Microsoft’s Xbox avatars, which can let you make stylized representations of what you look like,” explained The Verge.
Instead, Google illustrations offer different categories of objects and places to use for your avatar.
Before your serotonin levels spike up, you should note that the illustrations are only available for Android users, according to Google. However, the tech giant is currently “working on” providing the illustrations to iOS users.
The collection of illustrations available will also witness an expansion soon. In case none of the available avatars suit your liking, check back when Google welcomes more images.
Brave launches a non-tracking video call feature
Brave Software, a privacy and security-based software firm is welcoming a video conference feature under the name “Brave Talk’, emphasizing a privacy-conscious video chat option embedded into its own browser.
Through clicking on the camera icon or by visiting the page talk.brave.com, users of the Brave browser can enjoy a non-tracking video call option and even invite participants who do not have the particular browser built in their devices.
Brave, which is one of the Chromium-based browsers competing to become an alternative window to the web, is now vying to join the video conferencing space next to platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft teams. However, unlike other video calling apps, Brave is placing privacy as the number one priority.
Founded in 2016, the company prides itself with its privacy-conscious tools. The new non-tracking video call feature uses an open-source called ‘Jitsi as a Service.” Given that the source can be used directly in Brave, users won’t have to install any apps or software that can potentially compromise their devices.
This is the main differentiator between Brave and platforms such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams or Skype, who all have the power to monitor your calls.
“Brave Talk users can enable multiple layers of encryption on calls, so an eavesdropper cannot listen in on users’ calls, and our servers don’t save metadata, so calls, images, and activities are never recorded or shared without user consent.” The company explained according to ZDNet.
The Brave Talk feature is offered free of charge for one-on-one video conferences.
The new option also includes video group watch, livestreaming directly from YouTube, and unlimited call times.
However, a paid version does exist, allowing for even more benefits such as team calls with three or more users, having the ability to record calls, mute other users and enter a passcode to join a video call.
The paid version costs $7 a month for all international users, but the Chromium browser-based Brave has plans to launch the free version of Brave Talk for all Android and iOS users.
NBCU Warns YouTube TV Subscribers Could Be Blacked Out
YouTube said it has been unable to so far reach a new carriage agreement with NBCUniversal. The current contract expires on 30 September. If no new deal is struck by then, NBCUniversal content, such as Sunday Night Football, Jimmy Fallon or Law and Order SVU, will no longer be carried by Youtube TV.
NBCUniversal is warning YouTube TV subscribers that they are in danger of losing 14 channels from their streaming lineup if Google and NBCUniversal are unable to come to an agreement on carriage agreement terms.
If you are a YouTube TV subscriber, you may lose NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, Golf Channel, MSNBC, Oxygen, SYFY, Telemundo, The Olympic Channel, Universal Kids, Universo, and USA Network.
Google said that if it gets equitable terms, it will renew its agreement with NBCU. Otherwise, subscribers will get a discount for the duration of a blackout, which could begin Thursday.
“If we are unable to reach a deal by Thursday, the NBCU lineup of channels will no longer be available on YouTube TV and we will decrease our monthly price by $10, from $64.99 to $54.99 (while this content remains off our platform),” Google said.
It added: “You can sign up for NBC’s own direct-to-consumer streaming service, Peacock, which they offer for $4.99/month to continue watching NBCU content, such as Sunday Night Football.”
In a statement, NBCU said it is seeking fair rates from Google for YouTube TV.
“Unfortunately, Google is refusing to make a deal at these fair rates and is willing to withhold entertainment, news and sports programming from their paying customers,” NBCU said.
“NBCUniversal feels a responsibility to inform our fans that they are at risk of losing their favorite shows if Google continues with their demands.”
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