Home > Current Affairs, Dystopia, Links, Reason, Secular Religions, Skepticism > Interesting Links: Mar 7, 2016

Interesting Links: Mar 7, 2016

Here are links to a few interesting articles I came across recently. They are all about how corporations are trying to use technological developments to hurt their employees and customers, rather than provide a better product or service.

Link 1: How Amazon Shames Warehouse Workers for Alleged Theft

In an effort to discourage stealing, Amazon has put up flatscreen TVs that display examples of alleged on-the-job theft, say 11 of the company’s current and former warehouse workers and antitheft staff. The alleged offenders aren’t identified by name. Each is represented by a black silhouette stamped with the word “terminated” and accompanied by details such as when they stole, what they stole, how much it was worth, and how they got caught—changing an outbound package’s address, for example, or stuffing merchandise in their socks. Some of the silhouettes are marked “arrested.”

In some warehouses that don’t have flatscreens, workers say, tales of firings are posted on sheets of paper tacked to bulletin boards or taped to the wall.Former managers in Amazon’s loss-prevention department say the use of theft stories was widespread during their tenure. Amazon didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story. Many of the workers say the screens aren’t a top concern compared with wages or workload. “Only people that would have something to say about it is people that’s doing wrong,” says Maurice Jones, a warehouse worker who left Amazon in February. “It’s just letting people know that you’re being watched.”

Link 2: You Don’t Own Your Ebooks

You don’t own your ebooks with DRM. You’re merely licensing the privilege to read them. Some readers overseas have learned this the hard way (yet again) now that Nook is going out of business in the United Kingdom. But don’t worry, they’re working to let you maybe possibly transfer all those books you bought. The Register and TechDirt brought this notice from Nook’s UK site to our attention.

They’re not even promising that you’ll be able to transfer all your books! Digital rights management (DRM) is absolutely crippling our ability to preserve digital knowledge for the future. And it’s half the reason I prefer deadtree books. Even when it’s an accident (like when Amazon deleted everybody’s copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from their Kindles) it shows just how little control we have over the books we “buy” from digital retailers.

Link 3: New Film delves into FBI Arrests of Youths for Terrorism Crimes they might Commit

The ethical issues involved in preventive counterterrorism cases like Sadequee’s are the theme behind much of Homegrown. Following 9/11, law enforcement agencies were given a mandate to halt terrorist acts before they occurred, rather than investigate crimes after the fact. This directive inevitably gave rise to some disturbing ethical questions. When is it acceptable to arrest someone for a crime they haven’t actually committed, but you think they might commit in the future? At what point do a teenager’s online postings turn into a terrorism offense?

In 2009, Sadequee was tried, convicted, and sentenced to a 17-year federal sentence. But even after receiving that harsh sentence, the irksome fact remained that Sadequee had never actually committed an act of terrorism. The allegations against him amounted to statements and translations he had made online as a teenager. At his trial, Sadequee said that these online activities were “just talk,” and were never intended to manifest in an act of violence.

Sadequee was not arrested until the age of 19, but it appears that the government had been surveilling him closely for many years before that. Among the accusations against him were that he had sought to join the Taliban in December 2001. At that time, Sadequee would have been 15 years old.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. P Ray
    March 8, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Here’s a really nice story about corporations putting the screws on their most useless employees:
    I’m talking about the computer, replacing the managers. Such a lovely fairytale. And, to be honest – at some jobs, working like a robot is ideal … because you don’t have to deal with the vagaries of emotional people. Who don’t accomplish much, but lean on others to do their work … oh yeah, they’re called managers.

    • P Ray
      March 8, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Scratch that, reading further it turned life into hell for service workers.
      But I bet the shareholders were happy …
      until they needed to take a service job due to life-changing circumstances …

  2. P Ray
    March 12, 2016 at 7:36 am

    Another example besides Amazon:
    Business & Money
    Retailer Zalando under fire over work conditions
    AFP · 27 Apr 2014, 09:39

    Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit
    Zalando, a rising European online retailer, has hit controversy in its home country Germany after an undercover TV report claimed gruelling work conditions in one of its logistics centres.

    Zalando hits back after undercover report
    A TV journalist took a job at Zalando for three months and secretly filmed inside the centre in the central city of Erfurt, where some 2,000 staff package products for Internet shoppers.

    The reporter for commercial channel RTL said she had to walk as much as 27 kilometres during her eight-hour shifts, up and down aisles in the vast centre, and was told by superiors that sitting down for a rest is “frowned upon”.

    While several employees, their faces disguised, are heard complaining in the report about tough conditions as their every move is digitally monitored, a local medical worker reports that ambulances are sent for exhausted workers on an “almost daily” basis.

    “We are constantly subject to controls and enormous performance pressure,” said the journalist, who denounced labour law violations for the job that pays just above Germany’s planned new national minimum wage of €8.50 euros ($11.50) per hour.

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