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Report: Google Needs to do More on Bridging Gender Gap

In February this year, the US National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) said that Google did not violate labour laws when it fired Damore

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How to Find and Delete Where Google Knows You've Been. Pixabay
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Although the percentage of women in leadership roles at Google has increased from 20.8 to 25.5 per cent in the last four years, women still make up only 30.9 per cent of its global workforce while men 69.1 per cent, the tech giant has revealed.

In its annual diversity report released on Thursday, Google said it has made some progress in leadership ranks by gender and ethnicity.

“The data in this report shows that despite significant effort, and some pockets of success, we need to do more to achieve our desired diversity and inclusion outcomes,” said Danielle Brown, VP-Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer.

In 2017, women hires in tech positions rose to 24.5 per cent, although overall hiring of women dropped from 31.4 per cent to 31.2 per cent.

“Since 2014, women hires in tech have increased from 20.8 per cent to 24.5 per cent, which shows that our focus on hiring more women into technical positions is having impact,” said Brown.

The diversity report came after a year when an employee named James Damore sent out a long anti-diversity memo and was later fired.

Damore’s memo, titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber”, claims that when it comes to technology, there is a biological difference between men and women.

Representational image.
Google on a smartphone device, Pixabay

In February this year, the US National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) said that Google did not violate labour laws when it fired Damore.

According to the new diversity report, in terms of race and ethnicity (US data only), 2.5 per cent of Google’s workforce is Black, 3.6 per cent is Hispanic/Latin, 36.3 per cent is Asian and 53.1 per cent is White.

“Our gains in women’s representation have largely been driven by White and Asian women. Representation of Asian women increased considerably to 12.5 per cent of Google’s workforce, up from 10 per cent overall in 2014,” the report noted.

This is lower than the increase for Asian men who make up 25.7 per cent of Google, up from 21.4 per cent in 2014.

Also Read: Google: Fully Responsible For Securing Customers’ Data

Attrition rates in 2017 were highest for Black Googlers followed by Latin Googlers, and lowest for Asian Googlers.

“Black Googler attrition rates, while improving in recent years, have offset some of our hiring gains, which has led to smaller increases in representation than we would have seen otherwise.”

“We’re working hard to better understand what drives higher attrition and taking focused measures to improve it,” Brown added. (IANS)

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Experts Say That Google Storing Location Data Can Be Easily Absued

According to Jesse Victors, Software Security Consultant at Synopsys, when Google builds a control into Android and then does not honour it, there is a strong potential for abuse.

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Google storing location data has strong potential for abuse: Experts
Google storing location data has strong potential for abuse: Experts. Pixabay

 A day after reports surfaced that certain Google apps track your whereabouts even when you turn off location data, experts on Tuesday expressed concerns about the practice, stressing that location and identity data can be used for both good and bad.

The Associated Press on Monday ran a story saying an investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store users’ location data even if the users explicitly used a privacy setting forbidding that.

Researchers from Princeton University confirmed the findings.

According to Tim Mackey, Technical Evangelist at the US-based tech company Synopsys, it has been widely understood for some time that tech giants like Google use data supplied through the use of their services as part of their efforts to personalize the experience.

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Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in.Pixabay

“There is a basic saying when it comes to most technology — ‘Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should’. For practical purposes, this supply of personal data has been part of the virtual fees we pay to companies in exchange for ‘free’ access to the services provided,” Mackey told IANS.

“With General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU now in effect and regulations like the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) on the horizon, companies collecting personal data need to reassess their use of personal data,” he noted.

In a statement given to IANS, Google said that “Location History is a Google product that is entirely opt in, and users have the controls to edit, delete or turn it off at any time.

“As the (AP) story notes, we make sure Location History users know that when they disable the product, we continue to use location to improve the Google experience when they do things like perform a Google search or use Google for driving directions,” said Google.

just turning off Location History doesn't solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing "Web and App Activity" may do the trick.
just turning off Location History doesn’t solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing “Web and App Activity” may do the trick.

But just turning off Location History doesn’t solve the purpose. In Google Settings, pausing “Web and App Activity” may do the trick.

However, according to the information on Google’s Activity Control page, “Even when this setting is paused, Google may temporarily use information from recent searches in order to improve the quality of the active search session”.

According to Mackey, since we’re talking about consumer-level services, the expectation of the consumer for an “off switch” is what matters most.

“Users wishing their location be kept private indicate this preference through the ‘Location history’ setting. If vendors placed themselves in the shoes of a consumer and respected the setting, managing consent under regulations like GDPR would be simpler and the user’s expectations would be met,” Mackey emphasised.

Also Read: Microsoft’s Android Launcher Now Lets You Track Your Kid’s Location and App Usage

According to Jesse Victors, Software Security Consultant at Synopsys, when Google builds a control into Android and then does not honour it, there is a strong potential for abuse.

“It is sometimes extremely important to keep one’s location history private. Other times, you may simply wish to opt out of data collection. It’s disingenuous and misleading to have a toggle switch that does not completely work,” Victors said. (IANS)