Dhaka, Nov 10 (UNB): Facebook is dropping a requirement for mandatory arbitration of sexual misconduct allegations, acceding to a demand recently pressed by other Silicon Valley tech workers.
Google made a similar change on Thursday, a week after thousands of employees briefly walked off their jobs to protest how the company handled sexual-misconduct allegations against prominent executives.
The move at Facebook, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, means that employees no longer have to submit to private arbitration, which kept misconduct allegations secret and sometimes allowed abusers to continue their behavior. Employees can now press their claims in court instead. Other tech companies such as Microsoft and Uber have previously dropped mandatory arbitration.
Facebook will now also require executives at director level and above to disclose any dating relationships with company employees.
San Francisco, Nov 9 (AP/UNB) — Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after thousands of high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.
Google bowed to one of the protesters' main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional, so workers can choose to sue in court and present their case in front of a jury. It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after complaints from its female employees prompted an internal investigation. The probe concluded that its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment.
"Google's leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you've shared," CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to Google employees. "We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It's clear we need to make some changes." Thursday's email was obtained by The Associated Press.
Last week, the tech giant's workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest what they consider management's lax treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct. The protest's organizers estimated that about 20,000 workers participated.
The reforms are the latest fallout from a broader societal backlash against men's exploitation of their female subordinates in business, entertainment and politics — a movement that has spawned the "MeToo" hashtag as a sign of unity and a call for change.
Google will provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed, including firings, pay cuts and mandated counseling.
The company is also stepping up its training aimed at preventing misconduct. It's requiring all employees to go through the process annually instead of every other year. Those who fall behind in their training, including top executives, will be dinged in annual performance reviews, leaving a blemish that could lower their pay and make it more difficult to get promoted.
But Google didn't address protesters' demand for a commitment to pay women the same as men doing similar work. When previously confronted with accusations that it shortchanges women — made by the U.S. Labor Department and in lawsuits filed by female employees —Google has maintained that its compensation system doesn't discriminate between men and women.
The changes didn't go far enough to satisfy Vicki Tardif Holland, a Google employee who helped organize and spoke at the protests near the company's Cambridge, Massachusetts, office last week.
"While Sundar's message was encouraging, important points around discrimination, inequity and representation were not addressed," Holland wrote in an email responding to an AP inquiry.
Nevertheless, employment experts predicted the generally positive outcome of Google's mass uprising is bound to have ripple effects across Silicon Valley and perhaps the rest of corporate America.
"These things can be contagious," said Thomas Kochan, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology management professor specializing in employment issues. "I would expect to see other professionals taking action when they see something wrong."
Some employers might even pre-emptively adopt some of Google's new policies, given its prestige, said Stephanie Creary, who specializes in workplace and diversity issues at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "When Google does something, other employers tend to copy it," she said.
Google got caught in the crosshairs two weeks ago after The New York Times detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the creator of Google's Android software, Andy Rubin. The newspaper said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the accusations were credible. Rubin has denied the allegations.
Like its Silicon Valley peers, Google has already acknowledged that its workforce is too heavily concentrated with white and Asian men, especially in the highest-paying executive and computer-programming jobs. Women account for 31 percent of Google's employees worldwide, and it's lower for leadership roles.
Critics believe that gender imbalance has created a "brogammer" culture akin to a college fraternity house that treats women as sex objects. As part of its ongoing efforts, Google will now require at least one woman or a non-Asian ethnic minority to be included on the list of candidates for executive jobs.
St. Louis, Nov 9 (AP/UNB) — The ride-hailing company Uber instituted a new guideline prohibiting drivers from broadcasting passengers' images amid privacy concerns after a St. Louis-area driver posted hundreds of videos.
The new guideline was put in place at the end of September, an Uber spokesman said Thursday. It allows drivers to use video cameras, dash cameras and other recording devices for security purposes — but not to broadcast them.
"Broadcasting a person's image, audio, or video recording is a violation of these terms and may result in loss of account access," the guideline states.
Uber said the guideline was in place when a Phoenix driver posted video from Oct. 29 of Ottawa Senators players insulting the team and an assistant coach. The players apologized to their coach and said in a statement that their "private conversation was recorded without our knowledge or consent."
Uber said the driver's access was removed.
In July, both Uber and its rival, Lyft, cut ties with driver Jason Gargac , who recorded about 700 St. Louis-area passengers without their permission and most were streamed to his channel on the live video website Twitch. Passengers who were unwittingly recorded and broadcast included children, intoxicated college students and public figures, including Alice in Chains lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The newspaper said the posted videos sometimes included names and showed passengers vomiting, kissing, and trash-talking relatives, friends and employers. Gargac said at the time he was trying to capture what a Lyft and Uber ride is really like.
Uber began a review of its policies after the incident with Gargac, the company said.
It is not a crime in Missouri for parties to record their own interactions, unless it shows someone nude without that person's consent. The recording of the NHL players in Phoenix was legal as well since Arizona law requires consent of only one party — in the case of the Uber recording, the driver.
Fallout from Gargac's recording prompted the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission in September to prohibit taxi drivers from livestreaming video of passengers. But the commission has no authority over Uber, Lyft and other similar services.
Lyft has not changed or instituted a new policy, but requires drivers to follow local laws and regulations, "including with regard to the use of any recording device," a spokeswoman said.
Dhaka, Nov 7 (UNB)- Social media Facebook has launched ‘Ad Breaks’ facilities in Bangladesh.
Eligible publishers and creators can now earn as well as increase their number of followers of the facebook page using their longer-form videos through the facilities.
From Wednesday, the users can get the facilities in both English and Bangla of uploaded video on the facebook, said a press release.
As the facebook started the facilities in various languages across the global, it expanded the service in Bangladesh too as part of the initiative, added the press release.
China, Nov 7 (AP/UNB) — A Chinese state-owned company says it is developing a stealth combat drone in the latest sign of the country's growing aerospace prowess.
The CH-7 unmanned aerial vehicle also underscores China's growing competitiveness in the expanding global market for drones. China has won sales in the Middle East and elsewhere by offering drones at lower prices and without the political conditions attached by the U.S.
The CH-7's chief designer Shi Wen says the aircraft can "fly long hours, scout and strike the target when necessary."
"Very soon, I believe, in the next one to two years, (we) can see the CH-7 flying in the blue skies, gradually being a practical and usable product in the future," Shi told The Associated Press.
Shi said manufacturer Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation plans to test fly the drone next year and begin mass production by 2022. He said the drone will likely be sold abroad but had no information on potential clients.
A model of the aircraft is being displayed at this week's Zhuhai air show in southern China, a biannual event that showcases China's latest advancements in military and civilian aviation.
With a wingspan of 22 meters (72 feet) and a length of 10 meters (33 feet), the swept-wing CH-7 is the size of a combat aircraft and its single engine can propel it at roughly the speed of a commercial jet airliner.
The U.S., Russia and France are also developing stealth drones, while Israel has long been a leader in the UAV field.
However, low prices and a willingness to transfer technology have endowed China with a "strong position," in the UAV market, said Phil Finnegan, director of corporate analysis at the Teal Group Corp. in Fairfax, Virginia.
The U.S. has been extremely cautious about selling its higher-end unmanned system, even to NATO member states, opening up an opportunity to China in the export market, said Justin Bronk, an export on such technologies at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies in London.
"It would represent an area of Chinese arms export offerings which no other country offers," Bronk said.
Alongside its development of stealth fighters and commercial passenger jets, China has advanced rapidly in the development of UAVs, which have a relatively lower technological entry cost. Sales have also been boosted by the fact that China is not a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime that restricts exports of missiles and other unmanned weapons systems.
The numbers of drone programs unveiled in China in recent years has been "dizzying," said Sam Roggeveen, director of the international security program at Australia's Lowy Institute.
While the CH-7's ultimate effectiveness remains to be determined, if exported, it would "mark another step-change for China, which has traditionally not offered its cutting-edge technology to foreign customers," Roggeveen said.
Across the Middle East, countries locked out of purchasing U.S.-made drones due to rules over excessive civilian casualties are being wooed by Chinese arms dealers, now the world's main distributor of armed drones.
The sales are helping expand Chinese influence across a region crucial to American security interests and bolstering Beijing's ambitions to lead in high-tech arms sales.
While the U.S. still holds a technology advantage, China wins on price. The fact it is willing to sell the CH-7 abroad could indicate the technology is less than cutting edge, given China's desire to guard its technological edge in such areas, said Ron Huisken, a regional security expert at Australian National University.
China's exports also underscore the growing pervasiveness of drones in modern warfare, even without strong international agreements on where and how they can be used.
"One wonders what nasty surprises are in store as countries more casual about how they use drones and less strict about training standards get their hands on them," said Huisken.
Also appearing again at this year's Zhuhai show was China's homebuilt J-20 stealth fighter, which outwardly resembles the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor in service with the U.S. military.
It was joined by the Chinese J-10B fighter with vectoring thrust, featuring an engine equipped with a hinged nozzle. Vectoring thrust technology allows planes to direct their propulsion, giving it more flexibility in maneuvering, and the substation of Chinese-made WS-10 engines for those imported from Russia appears to mark a new milestone for the domestic defense industry.
The jet fighters on display thrilled spectators. For many, the performances demonstrated China's burgeoning aerospace industry and growing confidence in its technology.
"I think it is pretty awesome," said Xie Dongni, a marketer for an information technology company.
"I might not a plane specialist, but I can feel the way China is changing. It is getting stronger slowly, its international status is growing higher and higher."