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The Dirty War Over Diversity Inside Google 

Advocates of greater diversity at Google say they are being harassed and targeted on right-wing websites.

Nitasha Tiku reports: Fired Google engineer James Damore says he was vilified and harassed for questioning what he calls the company’s liberal political orthodoxy, particularly around the merits of diversity.

Now outspoken diversity advocates at Google say that they are being targeted by a small group of their coworkers in an effort to silence discussions about racial and gender diversity.

In interviews with WIRED, 15 current Google employees accuse coworkers of inciting outsiders to harass rank-and-file employees who are minority advocates, including queer and transgender employees. Since August, screenshots from Google’s internal discussion forums, including personal information, have been displayed on sites including Breitbart and Vox Popoli, a blog run by alt-right author Theodore Beale, who goes by the name Vox Day. Other screenshots were included in a 161-page lawsuit that Damore filed in January, alleging that Google discriminates against whites, males, and conservatives.

What followed, the employees say, was a wave of harassment. On forums like 4chan, members linked advocates’ names with their social-media accounts. At least three employees had their phone numbers, addresses, and deadnames (a transgender person’s name prior to transitioning) exposed. Google site reliability engineer Liz Fong-Jones, a trans woman, says she was the target of harassment, including violent threats and degrading slurs based on gender identity, race, and sexual orientation. More than a dozen pages of personal information about another employee were posted to Kiwi Farms, which New York has called “the web’s biggest community of stalkers.”

Meanwhile, inside Google, the diversity advocates say some employees have “weaponized human resources” by goading them into inflammatory statements, which are then captured and reported to HR for violating Google’s mores around civility or for offending white men.

Engineer Colin McMillen says the tactics have unnerved diversity advocates and chilled internal discussion. “Now it’s like basically anything you say about yourself may end up getting leaked to score political points in a lawsuit,” he says. “I have to be very careful about choosing my words because of the low-grade threat of doxing. But let’s face it, I’m not visibly queer or trans or non-white and a lot of these people are keying off their own white supremacy.”

Targeted employees say they have complained to Google executives about the harassment. They say Google’s security team is vigilant about physical threats and that Danielle Brown, Google’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, who has also been targeted by harassers, has been supportive and reassuring. But, they say they have not been told the outcome of complaints they filed against coworkers they believe are harassing them, and that top executives have not responded assertively to concerns about harassment and doxing. As a result, some employees now check hate sites for attempts at doxing Google employees, which they then report to Google security.

Google declined to respond to questions due to ongoing litigation, but a Google spokesperson said the company has met with every employee who expressed concern.

The complaints underscore how Google’s freewheeling workplace culture, where employees are encouraged to “bring your whole self to work” and exchange views on internal discussion boards, has turned as polarized and toxic as the national political debate. Read the rest of this entry »

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[VIDEO] Do Sexual Harassment Training Videos Work? 

 


Apple’s Diversity Chief Denise Young Smith Forced to Resign After Only 6 Months for Promoting Diversity

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Jonathan Vanian reports: Apple’s diversity chief is leaving the company after holding the job for only six months.

Denise Young Smith, a 20-year Apple veteran was most recently the company’s vice president of diversity and inclusion, is stepping down, Apple confirmed. TechCrunch first reported on Denise Young Smith’s upcoming departure.

She will be replaced by Christie Smith, a longtime Deloitte human resources executive. Unlike her predecessor, Christie Smith will not directly report to CEO Tim Cook, but rather to Deirdre O’Brien, who is Apple’s human resources chief.

“We deeply believe that diversity drives innovation,” an Apple spokesperson told Fortune. “We’re thrilled to welcome an accomplished leader like Christie Smith to help us continue the progress we’ve made toward a more diverse workplace.”

Earlier this November, Cornell Tech, a joint venture between Cornell University and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, said Denise Young Smith would join the engineering school as its executive-in-residence starting Jan. 2018.

She had irked some critics in May when she commented during a conference, “There can be 12 white, blue-eyed, blonde men in a room and they’re going to be diverse too because they’re going to bring a different life experience and life perspective to the conversation.” Her comments were seen by some as insensitive to people of color, women, and members of the LGBT community, who have long faced an uphill battle in the workplace. Read the rest of this entry »


MAMA SAYS ‘NO’: City Seeks Repayment for $800 Cupcake Bill For Worker’s Farewell Party

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YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) — Officials in Washington state want a former city employee to pay back nearly $800 in taxpayer money she spent on cupcakes for her own office farewell party.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports that when former Yakima human resources director Cheryl Ann Mattia resigned in December, she ordered $757.40 worth of gourmet cupcakes from a local cafe.

City Manager Tony O’Rourke says the spending was a “gross misuse” of taxpayer money….(read more)

AP


Ellen Nakashima: With a Series of Major Hacks, China Builds a Database on Americans

DigitalDC

China hacked into the federal government’s network, compromising four million current and former employees

Ellen Nakashima reports: China is building massive databases of Americans’ personal information by hacking government agencies and U.S. health-care companies, using a high-tech tactic to achieve an age-old goal of espionage: recruiting spies or gaining more information on an adversary, U.S. officials and analysts say.

“This is part of their strategic goal — to increase their intelligence collection via big data theft and big data aggregation. It’s part of a strategic plan.”

— U.S. government official, on condition of anonymity

Groups of hackers working for the Chinese government have compromised the networks of the Office of Personnel Management, which holds data on millions of current and former federal employees, as well as the health insurance giant Anthem, among other targets, the officials and researchers said.

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“We wish the United States would not be full of suspicions, catching wind and shadows, but rather have a larger measure of trust and cooperation.”

— Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei

“They’re definitely going after quite a bit of personnel information,” said Rich Barger, chief intelligence officer of ThreatConnect, a Northern Virginia cybersecurity firm. “We suspect they’re using it to understand more about who to target [for espionage], whether electronically or via human ­recruitment.”

The targeting of large-scale data­bases is a relatively new tactic and is used by the Chinese government to further its intelligence-gathering, the officials and analysts say. It is government espionage, not commercial espionage, they say.

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“They would leverage this data to get to diplomatic, political, military and economic intelligence that they typically target.”

“This is part of their strategic goal — to increase their intelligence collection via big data theft and big data aggregation,” said a U.S. government official, who, like others, spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive topic. “It’s part of a strategic plan.”

One hack of the OPM, which was disclosed by the government Thursday, dates at least to December, officials said. Earlier last year, the OPM discovered a separate intrusion into a highly sensitive database that contains information on employees seeking or renewing security clearances and on their background investigations.

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“So now the Chinese counterintelligence authorities know which American officials are meeting with which Chinese.”

Once harvested, the data can be used to glean details about key government personnel and potential spy recruits, or to gain information useful for counter­intelligence. Records in OPM’s database of background investigations, for instance, could contain a complete history of where an individual has lived and all of his or her foreign contacts in, say, China. “So now the Chinese counterintelligence authorities know which American officials are meeting with which Chinese,” a China cyber and intelligence expert said.

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“For bigger data storage, for bigger data theft. And when you can gain it in bulk, you take it in bulk.”

— China cyber and intelligence expert

The data could help Chinese analysts do more effective targeting of individuals, said a former National Security Agency official. “They can find specific individuals they want to go after, family members,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »