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Protocol | Policy

Following employee outrage, Pinterest backs California’s NDA-busting bill

The Silenced No More Act, which is co-sponsored by a Pinterest whistleblower, would allow California workers to break their non-disclosure agreements to talk about allegations of harassment and discrimination.

Following employee outrage, Pinterest backs California’s NDA-busting bill
Photo Illustration: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann announced Tuesday that the company is supporting a bill in California that would free workers of their non-disclosure agreements in situations where they have experienced workplace discrimination and harassment. The bill, which will have hearings in the state legislature today, is co-sponsored by Ifeoma Ozoma, a former Pinterest employee who came forward last year with allegations of pay discrimination and retaliation at the company, and has since written and spoken extensively about the use of NDAs in the tech industry.

"Regardless of what happens in the legislature, whether the bill moves forward or not, we're going to adopt the policies behind the proposed law," Silbermann wrote in a company email reviewed by Protocol. A Pinterest spokesperson confirmed the contents of the email.

The company's global head of communications, LeMia Jenkins, told Protocol that, effective immediately, the company will "not require employees to sign agreements that would prevent them from talking about their personal experiences at Pinterest after they leave." That doesn't, however, include NDAs that relate to trade secrets and confidential company information.

The news comes the same day that Ozoma published an op-ed in The New York Times alleging that her NDA at Pinterest was "designed to keep me quiet."

"For a long time, I hesitated to speak about the issues I experienced at Pinterest. I didn't want to be sued, and I hoped that the company would do the right thing and address the pay inequities and retaliation I faced," Ozoma wrote. "But it didn't."

Ozoma and her former Pinterest colleague Aerica Shimizu Banks came forward with their stories last summer, protected in part by an existing law in California passed in the wake of the #MeToo movement that allows workers to break their NDAs if they've experienced sexual harassment, assault or gender discrimination. Now, the two women are advocating for the passage of the Silenced No More Act, introduced by State Sen. Connie Leyva, which would extend those rights to people who have experienced all forms of discrimination. Pinterest employees are also organizing to voice their support for the bill at today's hearing.

On Twitter Tuesday, Ozoma took issue with Silbermann's email to the staff, particularly a portion which read: "While we've never required employees to sign agreements preventing them from talking about their personal experiences at Pinterest, adopting this policy furthers our accountability to each of you."

While employees aren't generally required to sign NDAs, in most cases, and in Ozoma and Banks's case, such agreements are offered in exchange for severance. "The reality is that when you are faced with refusing health insurance/rent or signing an unethical agreement, most people cannot afford to say no," Ozoma told Protocol.

She said she welcomes Pinterest's support and that of "every other corporation that acknowledges that coercing silence after instances of discrimination, harassment, and abuse, is wrong and anathema to American speech values."

Ozoma also called on the company to release all former employees from existing NDAs as well.

Protocol | China

China’s era of Big Tech Overwork has ended

Tech companies fear public outcry as much as they do regulatory crackdowns.

Chinese tech workers are fed up. Companies fear political and publish backlashes.

Photo: Susan Fisher Plotner/Getty Images

Two years after Chinese tech workers started a decentralized online protest against grueling overtime work culture, and one year after the plight of delivery workers came under the national spotlight, a chorus of Chinese tech giants have finally made high-profile moves to end the grueling work schedules that many believe have fueled the country's spectacular tech boom — and that many others have criticized as exploitative and cruel.

Over the past two months, at least four Chinese tech giants have announced plans to cancel mandatory overtime; some of the changes are companywide, and others are specific to business units. ByteDance, Kuaishou and Meituan's group-buying platform announced the end of a policy called "Big/Small Week," where a six-day workweek is followed by a more moderate schedule. In early June, a game studio owned by Tencent rolled out a policy that mandated employees punch out at 6 p.m. every Wednesday and take the weekends off.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

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Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Power

Brownsville, we have a problem

The money and will of Elon Musk are reshaping a tiny Texas city. Its residents are divided on his vision for SpaceX, but their opinion may not matter at all.

When Musk chose Cameron County, he changed its future irrevocably.

Photo: Verónica G. Cárdenas for Protocol

In Boca Chica, Texas, the coastal prairie stretches to the horizon on either side of the Gulf of Mexico, an endless sandbar topped with floating greenery, wheeling gulls and whipping gusts of wind.

Far above the sea on a foggy March day, the camera feed on the Starship jerked and then froze on an image of orange flames shooting into the gray. From the ground below, onlookers strained to see through the opaque sky. After a moment of quiet, jagged edges of steel started to rain from the clouds, battering the ground near the oceanside launch pad, ripping through the dunes, sinking deep into the sand and flats.

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

People

Facebook’s push to protect young users is a peek at the future of social

More options, more proactive protections, fewer one-size-fits-all answers for being a person on the internet.

Social media companies are racing to find ways to protect underage people on their apps.

Image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash

Social media companies used to see themselves as open squares, places where everyone could be together in beautiful, skipping-arm-in-arm harmony. But that's not the vision anymore.

Now, Facebook and others are going private. They're trying to rebuild around small groups and messaging. They're also trying to figure out how to build platforms that work for everyone, that don't try to apply the same set of rules to billions of people around the world, that bring everyone together but on each user's terms. It's tricky.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Power

Who owns that hot startup? These insiders want to clear it up.

Cap tables are fundamental to startups. So 10 law firms and startup software vendors are teaming up to standardize what they tell you about investors' stakes.

Cap tables describe the ownership of shares in a startup, but they aren't standardized.

Illustration: Protocol

Behind every startup, there's a cap table. Startups have to start keeping track of who owns what, from the moment they're created, to fundraising from venture capitalists, to an eventual IPO or acquisition.

"Everything that happens that is a sexy thing that's important to the tech world, it really is something having to do with the cap table," said David Wang, chief innovation officer at the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm.

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Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.

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