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After retaliation against Googler Uprising organizers, a company-wide memo warns employees they can be fired for accessing "need to know" data

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Last year, Google was rocked by a succession of mass uprisings by its staff, who erupted in fury after discovering that the company was secretly pursuing a censored Chinese search tool and an AI project for US drones, and that it had secretly paid Android founder Andy Rubin $150m to quietly leave the company after women who worked for him accused him of sexually assaulting them. In the end, 20,000 googlers walked out in protest, and, after attaining victory for most of their demands, continued to press the company to hold itself to high ethical standards, successfully blocking the inclusion of a transphobic, racist, xenophobic ideologue on the company's "AI Ethics" committee. Google management didn't take this lying down: they illegally retaliated against uprising organizers Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton (leading to a predictable second uprising among googlers). Now, Google management is taking things further, circulating a company-wide memo warning employees what they can expect to be terminated if they access documents that are "need to know" (which would have included the documents that led to the unrest about the drone project, the China project, Andy Rubin's payoff, and the inclusion of a Heritage Foundation extremist on the AI Ethics committee). Googlers are predictably upset about this -- not least because there are no consistent standards for "need to know" classification, and not all "need to know" documents are correctly labeled, a situation that creates an employment minefield for googlers. It's part of a general trend towards secrecy within Google, including an end to the practice of archiving videos from the company-wide, weekly "TGIF" meetings, and also an end to the practice of allowing any employee to ask questions of management at these meetings. Read the rest

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