Hashtag Trending Dec. 2 – Amazon underreported COVID cases; Microsoft’s BNPL faces poor feedback; Google employee lawsuit

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Amazon faces accusations of underreporting COVID, Microsoft’s Buy Now Pay Later Edge inclusion has users agitated, and Google is facing a lawsuit from former employees.

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That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now, welcome to Hashtag Trending. It’s Thursday, December 2, and I’m your host, Samira Balsara.

Labor group says Amazon massively underreported Covid cases contracted at work from technology

Amazon is under fire from a coalition of four unions that alleged the mega-corp underreported COVID-19 cases tied to the company. According to an article from CNN, Amazon claimed that just 27 of the 20,000 positive COVID-19 tests by employees were contracted while at work.  The coalition of unions sent a complaint to the Assistant Secretary of Labor earlier this year, citing a “disturbing pattern of misleading or grossly incomplete information provided to authorities around COVID-19 cases in its warehouses.” Amazon, for its part, denied the allegations, calling them deliberately misleading, and an effort to paint the statistics Amazon filed with Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) in a negative light. The statistic raising the most alarm as submitted by Amazon was that its infection rate was 42 per cent lower than what would have been found in the overall U.S. population during the same period, prompting the calls for transparency from the union coalition. 

Users revolt as Microsoft bolts a short-term financing app onto Edge from technology

Microsoft Edge users are making their displeasure heard regarding Microsoft’s “bolted on” Buy Now, Pay Later app that now comes baked into the browser. The application allows users to break payments into smaller instalments. User reviews have been particularly damning to Microsoft, with one review calling the inclusion “extremely unnecessary for a browsing experience” according to an article from Ars Technica. The article also pointed out that by adding on more features, it increases the browser’s attack surface and potentially weakens security. Nevertheless, despite complaints, Microsoft appears steadfast in its inclusion of the buy now, pay later application.

Finally, a group of three ex-Google employees have sued the company for violating its own “Don’t be evil” motto. According to the suit and NPR, the three software engineers signed a conduct contract with “Don’t be evil” clause. The group says that they felt they behaved “in accordance with that principle when they organized Google employees against controversial projects,”, including working with Customs and Border Protection during Donald Trump’s Presidency. Google eventually went on to fire the three employees, alongside a fourth employee, for violating the company’s data security policies, an allegation which all four employees deny. The suit is one of several that has recently been lobbied against a host of big tech companies as increasing labour unrest across the United States marches on towards the end of the year. 

And now for something a little bit different. Harvard University researchers have discovered a way to use E. coli bacteria to make nanofibres. The researchers, according to an article from Ars Technica, wanted to create microbial ink made solely from genetically engineered microbial cells. The scientists were ultimately successful in using the E. coli to create living 3D-printed materials. The ink also has some self-propagating properties, which suggested that the ink could potentially create more on its own. The researchers have said that next steps include looking into potential biomedical uses as well as potentially creating extraterrestrial habitats with the material.

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. Make sure to sign up for our Daily IT Wire Newsletter to get all the news that matters directly in your inbox every day. If you have a suggestion or tip, please drop us a line in the comments or via email. Thanks for listening, I’m Samira Balsara.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Samira Balsara
Samira Balsara
Samira is a writer for IT World Canada. She is currently pursuing a journalism degree at Toronto Metropolitan University (formally known as Ryerson) and hopes to become a news anchor or write journalistic profiles. You can email her at [email protected]

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