Contracting Diversity, The Rise of the Minimum, and Managing Humanity


One Way Silicon Valley Could Increase Diversity and Reduce Income Inequality
 Silicon Valley is more diverse than you might think — if you count blue-collar subcontracted workers. A report out of UC Santa Cruz (PDF) notes that people employed by subcontractors are paid 30% less than those who contract directly with tech companies. They’re also disproportionately people of color. Big tech companies use subcontractors to keep labor costs down — and to shield themselves from potential labor issues (although WeWork found that doesn’t always pan out). But given the Valley mantra of efficiency, why not cut out the middleman and go direct? These are far from elite white-collar gigs, but they are jobs that would pay better if they were contracted directly. “While 7% of high-tech direct employees are Hispanic or African-American, 26% of white collar potentially contracted workers and 58% of blue-collar potentially contracted workers are Hispanic or African-American,” the report says. That’s a more diverse group of workers available to be hired right now. As lead report author Chris Benner tells the Washington Post, “there is strong occupational segregation by race.” Many prominent tech execs talk the talk about diversity and income inequality; here’s an example of how changing a hiring strategy (from outsourcing with outside firms to contracting directly) could have an immediate positive impact on both fronts.

Rise of the Minimum
 Minimum wages are rising faster than sea levels in California, New York, and the UK. It seems a movement is afoot.

Can You Be Both Human and Anonymous?
 Internet provider CloudFlare wants the websites it hosts to be compatible with the anonymous browser Tor, but because Tor is used by legions of spammers, CloudFlare is having problems living up to that pledge. In a blog post this week, CloudFlare cofounder Matthew Prince tries to explain the issue again. He deploys both carrot and stick, revealing that 94 percent of requests it gets via Tor “are automated requests designed to harm our customers.” Prince’s suggested solution — temporary, anonymous identification to prevent repeated CAPTCHA attempts by bots — is an intriguing workaround. But it could also make legit human Tor users more visible than they want or need to be. Prince seems genuinely committed to preserving anonymity, but what can a company do when nearly all the traffic it gets from a source is malicious? The Tor community disputes Prince’s claims, and given its nature, resolving this dispute will be tough — but it’s important work. Proving humanity while at the same time preserving anonymity is critical to insuring that fundamental human rights are preserved online.

The Birth of Anti-Eco Tourism
 American and Canadian Coast Guards are preparing for more rescue missions above the Arctic Circle. Since the Northwest Passage is now iceless year-round, tourism is heading north: In August, the massive Crystal Serenity cruise ship is set to start its 32-day maiden voyage from Alaska to New York, through the Northwest Passage. Tickets run from $22,000 to $120,000. You can joke about luxury liners and icebergs, and it’s prudent for the Coast Guards to get ready for the worst, but how can a company think that bringing a 14-deck cruise ship into an area already under attack from climate change is a good idea?

Reddit Gets the Letter
 Wondering when Reddit would receive a national security letter, which signals that the FBI is conducting electronic surveillance on its platform? Thanks to an ingenious passive notification system and a community of close readers, your wait is over.

The FCC Votes
 In Wednesday’s Daily we noted that the FCC was about to vote on whether to subsidize home broadband for some who couldn’t afford it otherwise. That proposal passed yesterday, 3–2, along party lines.

Photo: Pixabay

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