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?