How does the Internet affect power? How does power affect the Internet?
Factors such as ubiquitous surveillance, the rise of cyberwar, ill-conceived laws and regulations on behalf of either government or corporate power, and a feudal model of security collide to create a circumstance in which those in power are using information technology to increase their power, at the expense of users.
Bruce Schneier—renowned security technologist and author—discusses these issues and more with the Berkman Center’s Jonathan Zittrain.
Amazon is the king of online booksellers and, by most accounts, the most feared player in publishing. Yet last week it shelled out a reported $150 million to buy up Goodreads, a social network for book nerds with a devoted but far from enormous 16 million members. So why is most of the media convinced this is a brilliant deal? You´ve probably heard a few of the answers already. Namely, Amazon gets to keep a potential competitor out of the hands of rivals like Apple or Barnes and Noble, while snapping up a vast trove of data
Amazon has failed me, here.
Ecuador’s President Correa again won the presidency in the country’s recent election. In addition, his party won more than a 2/3 majority in the national congress. This means that he now has the power to change the constitution without a national vote. Essentially, he has no opposition that matters.
People are beginning to wonder about the implications of this unlimited power. Two serious conflicts already loom on the horizon as a result of Correa’s desire to again alter the path Ecuador will follow. One is a possible war in the Amazon. Another could mean the wholesale introduction of GMO’s into the country.
As was expected, Correa won the election handily, with more than 57% of the vote. His closest rival gained only 24%. It makes me wonder if some of the multitude of other candidates got any votes at all other than from family and friends.
“This victory is yours. It belongs to our families, to our wives, to our friends, our neighbors, the entire nation,” Correa said. “We are only here to serve you. Nothing for us. Everything for you, a people who have become dignified in being free.”
Amazon has denied the allegations but will investigate per the request of the German government. Sounds like a third party is in charge of hiring. Hopefully Amazon will get rid of all those involved quickly if the reports are true.
Online retailer Amazon has said it will investigate reports temporary staff at its logistics centres in Germany were subjected to a climate of intimidation by security staff wearing neo-Nazi linked clothes.
A documentary aired on German television told of grim conditions for staff hired by temp agencies on Amazon’s behalf.
ARD public television cited temporary staff saying they were paid less than promised, faced constant searches and were intimidated by security staff wearing clothes linked to Germany’s neo-Nazi scene.
The documentary showed guards in black uniforms with ‘HESS’ emblazoned on their chests, standing for Hensel European Security Services, but also reminiscent of Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.
In Frankfurt, locals said they would end their use of Amazon’s German website, Amazon.de, in response to the documentary.
“I ordered books at Amazon 2 or 3 times, but this will not happen anymore. Simple,” said one man.
Another had deleted his account altogether.
“In reaction to that, yesterday an email from Amazon arrived with a statement which tried to correct the claims and with the request not to cancel my account, but I finally deleted it this morning,” he said.
Amazon has more than 7,700 permanent employees in Germany, but hires thousands more to fulfil surges in orders before Christmas.
The German union ‘ver.di’ says Amazon workers have for years complained of intense pressure, random searches and short breaks.
BERLIN — Online retailer Amazon reacted to mounting criticism Monday by firing a security company named in a German television documentary about alleged mistreatment of foreign temporary workers.
An Amazon spokeswoman in Germany said the company had ended its relationship with Hensel European Security Services “with immediate effect.”
“Amazon has a zero tolerance limit for discrimination and intimidation and expects the same of other companies we work with,” spokeswoman Ulrike Stoecker said in an email to The Associated Press.
A documentary shown on German public television channel ARD last week showed staff of the security company — whose initials spell out the surname of Adolf Hitler’s deputy Rudolf Hess — wearing clothes linked to Germany’s neo-Nazi scene. It also interviewed people claiming they were intimidated by the security guards, who were stationed at a holiday camp where the temporary staff were housed.
Good for them.
Those who regularly have the distinct pleasure of listening to Amazon’s quarterly conference call for investors know that the company rarely says anything of substance in these calls. Usually, executives deflect questions, reading canned lines and sticking to the appropriate PR speak. But this quarter’s investor call may have been the shortest in history.
That’s probably because Amazon’s press release only tells one side of the story, and executives probably aren’t too eager to respond to any of those pesky naysayers. Here’s why: In spite of its $21 billion in sales, Amazon underperformed compared to analysts’ expectations. Of course expectations were high thanks to the usual holiday shopping bump for retail and e-commerce, but Amazon was expected to hit $0.27 EPS and $22 billion in revenues, and Amazon instead underperformed, coming in at $0.21 and $21 billion, respectively.
That may not sound like a lot, and Amazon executives clearly think there isn’t much to be worried about, especially considering the company has $8 billion in cash. That’s nothing to scoff at, clearly, but there’s also the fact that the company’s net income decreased by 45 percent in the fourth quarter and growth is slowing. Amazon saw just $97 million in net profits in Q4. Yes, $97 million. That would be a big win for a company with $1 billion in revenue, but I’m probably not going out on a limb to say that it’s a red flag when you’re doing $21 billion.
If you look at the profit/loss graph in Leena’s post from earlier today [also included at the bottom of this post], one sees that Amazon hasn’t tallied more than $177 million in profits … well, for quite some time.
What’s more, as Zero Hedge points out, it’s almost comical that Amazon’s stock jumped after-hours. The irrationality of the markets in top form. The stock shot up this afternoon even after Amazon lowered its top-line guidance, projecting sales of between $15 to $16 billion, along with operating income.
The platform will allow Amazon to track and analyze the shopping habits of its customers, and then service tailored ads to those users elsewhere on the web — something Google does already with its own AdSense program, which generates nearly 30 percent of the company’s revenue. Other companies, like Facebook, are also jumping into the real-time bidding market, though Facebook’s recently announced Exchange platform will only run ads internally on the social network. While Amazon already sells ads on its network of websites and on its Kindle devices, Adweek says those programs are more traditional; an automated ad buying platform would help the company directly compete with major ad service companies on the web.