Saturday, March 22, 2014

Pretty Sure There Are No Good Guys Anymore

Google's Schmidt, Brin, and Page

Imagine a movie about a couple of dozen large tech firms conspiring to fix wages for over a million people worldwide. Then start to think who you'd have star in it. Next, after you find out that the plot is right out of the headlines and included some of your biggest heroes of the tech world, you decide you can't trust anybody anymore.

If they can fix wages, what makes you think they give a shit about your privacy or what they share with the NSA?

I'm sick. Feel like an idiot. Then begins a seething rage, peppered by thoughts of how I couldn't live without their stuff. They're fucked up, and we're fucked.
Back in January, I wrote about “The Techtopus” — an illegal agreement between seven tech giants, including Apple, Google, and Intel, to suppress wages for tens of thousands of tech employees. The agreement prompted a Department of Justice investigation, resulting in a settlement in which the companies agreed to curb their restricting hiring deals. The same companies were then hit with a civil suit by employees affected by the agreements.
This week, as the final summary judgement for the resulting class action suit looms, and several of the companies mentioned (Intuit, Pixar and Lucasfilm) scramble to settle out of court, Pando has obtained court documents (embedded below) which show shocking evidence of a much larger conspiracy, reaching far beyond Silicon Valley.
Confidential internal Google and Apple memos, buried within piles of court dockets and reviewed by PandoDaily, clearly show that what began as a secret cartel agreement between Apple’s Steve Jobs and Google’s Eric Schmidt to illegally fix the labor market for hi-tech workers, expanded within a few years to include companies ranging from Dell, IBM, eBay and Microsoft, to Comcast, Clear Channel, Dreamworks, and London-based public relations behemoth WPP. All told, the combined workforces of the companies involved totals well over a million employees.

According to multiple sources familiar with the case, several of these newly named companies were also subpoenaed by the DOJ for their investigation. A spokesperson for confirmed that in 2009-10 the company was investigated by the DOJ, and agreed to cooperate fully with that investigation.  Other companies confirmed off the record that they too had been subpoenaed around the same time.
Although the Department ultimately decided to focus its attention on just Adobe, Apple, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm and Pixar, the emails and memos clearly name dozens more companies which, at least as far as Google and Apple executives were concerned, formed part of their wage-fixing cartel.
A confidential Google memo titled “Special Agreement Hiring Policy,” dating from November 2006, divides the company’s wage-fixing agreements into two categories: “Do Not Cold Call” and “Sensitive Companies.” Below that, the Google memo offers a brief chronology and list of companies:
The following companies have special agreements with Google and are part of the “Do Not Cold Call” list.
The first entry marks the beginning of Google’s participation in the wage-suppression scheme:
Effective March 6, 2005:
• Genentech, Inc.
• Intel Corporation
• Apple Computer
• Paypal, Inc.
• Comcast Corporation
Until now, neither Paypal (owned by eBay), Comcast nor Genentech have been publicly mentioned as part of the wage-suppression cartel. Nor have they been publicly named in criminal or civil actions relating to this particular case, although both the DOJ and the state of California are currently pursuing a separate but related antitrust suits against eBay.
Really fucked up stuff.

Pixar's John Lasseter: great movies, not so great treatment of workers?

No comments:

Post a Comment