After two years of negotiations, about 60 Pittsburgh-based workers represented by the United Steelworkers have reached a tentative union contract agreement with Google contractor HCL America, becoming one of the first unions to ever successfully reach a formal contract agreement with a large tech company.
The proposed contract includes wage increases, pay parity, additional protections for job security and additional paid time off. Union members will vote to ratify the contract on July 30.
The National Labor Relations board alleged in October 2020 that HCL America failed to negotiate with the union in good faith, including by moving work from Pittsburgh to Krakow, Poland in retaliation for the unionization effort.
"Nearly two years ago, HCL's employees voted to organize and bargain collectively for a fair contract, and the company fought viciously against it for as long as it could," USW International President Tom Conway said in a press release.
Facebook on Friday brought its cloud gaming service to iOS devices using the Safari browser. It's a similar delivery method as Google's Stadia service and Microsoft's Xbox Cloud Gaming platform, and it's due to Apple's App Store restrictions that cloud gaming providers are resorting to browser-based solutions instead of native apps.
"We've come to the same conclusion as others: Web apps are the only option for streaming cloud games on iOS at the moment. As many have pointed out, Apple's policy to 'allow' cloud games on the App Store doesn't allow for much at all," said Vivek Sharma, Facebook Gaming's vice president. "Apple's requirement for each cloud game to have its own page, go through review, and appear in search listings defeats the purpose of cloud gaming. These roadblocks mean players are prevented from discovering new games, playing cross-device, and accessing high-quality games instantly in native iOS apps — even for those who aren't using the latest and most expensive devices."
Apple last year made public its stance on cloud gaming, arguing that video games, unlike television or other media, can't be streamed over the internet on iOS devices unless cloud gaming operators redesign their services to treat each game as an individual app. The restrictions have fueled a feud between Apple and companies like Epic and Microsoft, which have begun more vocally complaining about Apple's treatment of gaming apps on the iPhone and iPad. Epic also sued Apple over alleged antitrust violations for its removal of the Fortnite iOS app. The case went to trial in May and is awaiting a verdict from the judge.
🚨 Cloud Gaming Launch Alert 🚨
Starting today: play Facebook cloud games on iOS browsers!
🧭Open Safari on your… https://t.co/eHrZptY9SG
Facebook's cloud gaming service didn't launch until October of last year, when it arrived in a closed beta form only on Android devices and the web featuring a mix of HTML5-powered games and slightly more-powerful mobile titles. Facebook is focusing on games already designed for smartphones, with a goal to reduce download times and make it easier to jump into a game instantly rather than trying to make console or PC-quality titles available on the go. The company isn't charging for the service and is treating it as an extension of its existing Facebook Gaming efforts, which include browser-based gaming and Twitch-like live streaming.
Now, the company says it's resorting to mobile Safari to deliver the service on iOS devices because Apple doesn't allow any other option to get on the App Store. Similar to Stadia and other services, iPhone owners can save the web URL as a shortcut on their iOS home screen, so that it looks and acts like a native app. Progressive web apps do not, however, have access to key system-level iOS features like push notifications and certain Apple APIs.
Amazon plans to investigate allegations of discrimination and harassment at Amazon Web Services, according to The Washington Post. The probe follows a petition signed by more than 550 Amazon employees that claims the company's current system to look into reports of discrimination are not "fair, objective or transparent."
In the petition, workers allege the company fosters "an underlying culture of systemic discrimination, harassment, bullying and bias against women and under-represented groups," according to the Post.
AWS chief executive Adam Selipsky told the petition's authors in an email last week that the company will investigate the claims, but he didn't offer a timeline. The petition asks that the company conduct an independent probe of "employee concerns that there is a non-inclusive culture," and that Amazon form a council of workers who can work with the investigator.
Authors of the petition gave Amazon a July 30 deadline to commit to those requests and an Oct. 30 deadline to complete its probe.
An Amazon spokesperson said the AWS human resources and leadership team have taken a few steps to examine the concerns brought up in the petition, including hiring an independent investigator and appointing team leaders to assess the climate of the AWS team. The company did not name the firm investigating employee complaints.
Cindy Warner, a former AWS employee, said she was let go from the company in June, a month after filing a lawsuit alleging gender discrimination at AWS. Her report was one of the reasons AWS employees launched the petition, she said.
"I am not an anomaly — this is a systemic problem in ProServe," she told Protocol. "There is a strong undertow of retaliation in this company."
An Amazon spokesperson said the company investigated her complaints and found her allegations to be "unsubstantiated," but Warner said the company did not contact her while her complaints were examined. An Amazon spokesperson did not return a request to confirm whether they spoke with Warner during the course of her investigation.
"When an incident is reported, we investigate and take proportionate action, up to and including termination," the spokesperson said in an email to Protocol.
Update: This story was updated to include a statement from Amazon and Cindy Warner, a former AWS employee.
Mitchell Hashimoto, who co-founded cloud infrastructure startup HashiCorp and helped build it into one of the most valuable private startups in enterprise tech, announced Thursday that he will step down as co-chief technology officer but remain an individual contributor with the company.
"This change has been years in planning and is now possible thanks to HashiCorp's maturity and the excellent leadership team we now have in place," Hashimoto wrote in a blog post. Along with co-founder and co-CTO Armon Dadgar, Hashimoto built HashiCorp into a popular provider of infrastructure tools that help businesses get their applications up and running on cloud services.
The company is privately valued at about $5 billion and is widely expected to file for an IPO in the near future. Dadgar will remain as CTO alongside CEO Dave McJannet, who joined the company in 2016 and took over the CEO role from Hashimoto.
Two Democratic senators introduced a bill that would limit how Section 230, a prized legal shield for social media companies, applies to COVID-19 misinformation.
Sec. 230 lets internet publishers, including social networks like Facebook and Twitter, avoid lawsuits over users' content. The provision, which dates back to 1996, is controversial and subject to many, many reform proposals, with Democrats criticizing it for what they say is the incentive it provides for companies to leave up too much harmful content.
The latest target for many Democratic politicians is misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines that prevent it, as the U.S. inoculation rate plateaus and deaths mount from the more contagious delta variant of the virus that causes the disease. President Joe Biden has been escalating his criticism of the extensive online misinformation about COVID-19, for instance, and the White House communications director said Tuesday the administration was reviewing a Sec. 230 fix on the issue.
As a result, it was all but inevitable that bills would follow to impose potential liability on the platforms by tweaking Sec. 230 for COVID-19 or even more general health misinformation. The bill from Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Luján doesn't tackle all health misinformation, but according to their press release, creates an exception to the legal shield for "platforms with algorithms that promote health-related misinformation related to an existing public health emergency."
Companies have said Sec. 230 allows them to remove harmful content without facing legal threats, and Facebook has touted its efforts to surface reliable COVID-19 information. Some scholars have also raised potential First Amendment concerns, and several bills proposing to change the law have languished.