Silicon Valley Slaves

Weyman Holton
Jun 19 · 5 min read

Apple Exiting China / Platform Content Warfare PTSD / Medical Insurance Robocall Assault

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Apple plans to move some manufacturing out of China, reports Nikkei

Apple is exploring moving between 15 and 30 percent of its hardware production out of China, according to a new report by Nikkei. The company reportedly has a growing team looking into moving production, and has asked key manufacturing partners like Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron to evaluate the available options.

The catalyst for the shift is the ongoing trade war between China and the US, which is expected to intensify at the end of this month with the introduction of 25 percent tariffs on devices including phones, laptops, and tablets. However, Apple reportedly wants to shift production regardless of whether the trade dispute gets resolved…Around five million Chinese jobs are thought to rely on Apple’s manufacturing in the country, and Apple employs around 10,000 people directly in China. It’s unclear how many of these jobs would be impacted by losing 15 to 30 percent of production.

Apple is not reported to have set a deadline for when suppliers need to respond with plans for where to shift production. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Read more about this story today from The Verge.

Nobody is talking about the factory conditions of these workers at Foxconn plants, or that near-slave wages are paid by these companies really just sockpuppets of China. Americans need to be aware of the human toll that technology has taken at home, and abroad.

Casey Newton has a lengthy exposé: Facebook moderators break their NDAs to expose desperate working conditions

“They said Facebook is basically shoving all of their graphic violence content to us, that they didn’t want it anymore. So they had to move more people to cover it. And that’s all that we saw, every single day.”

Speagle vividly recalls the first video he saw in his new assignment. Two teenagers spot an iguana on the ground, and one picks it up by the tail. A third teenager films what happens next: the teen holding the iguana begins smashing it onto the street. “They beat the living shit out of this thing,” Speagle told me, as tears welled up in his eyes. “The iguana was screaming and crying. And they didn’t stop until the thing was a bloody pulp.”

…If you believe moderation is a high-skilled, high-stakes job that presents unique psychological risks to your workforce, you might hire all of those workers as full-time employees. But if you believe that it is a low-skill job that will someday be done primarily by algorithms, you probably would not.

Instead, you would do what Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter have done, and hire companies like Accenture, Genpact, and Cognizant to do the work for you. Leave to them the messy work of finding and training human beings, and of laying them all off when the contract ends. Ask the vendors to hit some just-out-of-reach metric, and let them figure out how to get there.

At Google, contractors like these already represent a majority of its workforce. The system allows tech giants to save billions of dollars a year, while reporting record profits each quarter. Some vendors may turn out to mistreat their workers, threatening the reputation of the tech giant that hired them. But countless more stories will remain hidden behind nondisclosure agreements.

In the meantime, tens of thousands of people around the world go to work each day at an office where taking care of the individual person is always someone else’s job. Where at the highest levels, human content moderators are viewed as a speed bump on the way to an AI-powered future.

I read last year this work was done in India under the cover of “artificial intelligence training” but now appear to be stateside. Would you work as a content moderator? Would you expect working conditions to be top shelf or would you be surprised to find a high burnout and turnover rate? What responsibility does Silicon Valley have to ensure that its contractors pay workers a fair wage and provide good work conditions?

Steel yourself and check out this article over at The Verge.

Lisa Vaas writes: Hospitals are being suffocated by robocalls

Medical staff are being overwhelmed by a new type of health crisis: “a wave of thousands of robocalls that spread like a virus… from one phone line to the next, disrupting communications for hours,” the Washington Post reports.

This is nothing new. According to the spam-call blocker company YouMail, there were an estimated 4.7 billion robocalls placed in the month of May alone.

But it’s reaching a feverish pitch at the organizations for which it’s far more than an annoyance — rather, as hospital cybersecurity chiefs tell it, it’s a question of life and death. Spearphishers are placing spam calls to patients — using numbers spoofed to look like they’re coming from legitimate healthcare organizations and pretending to be hospital representatives — and trying to get insurance or other payment information out of their targets.

New telephone system security changes are coming with SHAKEN/STIRRED protocols in Q4 but until then, this crisis is reaching epidemic proportions. Read more about it at Sophos’ Naked Security blog.

Geotagging gets removal announcement from Twitter the day of Trump’s big Orlando rally. Coincidence? And Google announces a Chrome tool for reporting sites so you too can be part of content moderation for Big Brother.

There are leaks and patches to report this week. Eatstreet, Venmo, WebLogic Server, and fitness trackers are under the microscope. Firefox got an update for a zero day vulnerability. Also, the makers of the Brave browser are asking whether Google’s ad tracking violates GDPR. And if you use your birthday as your PIN, hackers have your number.


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Your Tech Moment™

Commentary on technology, telecom & security in our information age

Weyman Holton

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author of “The Dirty Deeds Playbook” out now in paperback and on Amazon Kindle.

Your Tech Moment™

Commentary on technology, telecom & security in our information age

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