April 15, 2020

Michael Connor: Shareholder Actions and Social Justice in Tech

Bio Michael Connor () is the Executive Director of Open MIC, which he helped launch following a distinguished career as a media executive, entrepreneur and journalist. He has served as a consultant for more than a decade in the field of corporate...


Michael Connor (@NYMichaelConnor) is the Executive Director of Open MIC, which he helped launch following a distinguished career as a media executive, entrepreneur and journalist. He has served as a consultant for more than a decade in the field of corporate responsibility and is the owner and Editor of Business Ethics magazine, an online publication.

Michael is a former staff reporter for The Wall Street Journal and Correspondent and Senior Producer for ABC News. His television work has received numerous honors, including two national Emmys, a Columbia-duPont Award, a Writers Guild Award and a nomination for an Academy Award. He also held executive positions at Dow Jones & Co., where he led global development of the company’s TV and multimedia operations, served as CEO of a London-based pan-European business news channel and was Executive Producer of The Wall Street Journal Report, a weekly syndicated program.

Michael currently serves on the board of the Center for an Urban Future, a NYC-based think tank dedicated to highlighting the critical opportunities and challenges facing New York and other cities. He is a graduate of the College of the Holy Cross.



Open MIC


News Roundup      


Amazon fires employees critical of the company’s working conditions


Amazon fired 3 employees last week who were critical of working conditions at the online retail behemoth which reached a market cap milestone of $1 trillion in January. The employees were fired for complaining about the company’s coronavirus response, urging the company to increase cleaning at its facilities, and joining public protests opposing the company’s practices. Organizers are calling for a mass employee walkout on April 24th. Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth currently stands at $139.4 billion.


Where are the unemployment checks?


The U.S. unemployment rate is estimated at around 17%--the worst its been since the 1930s. The Nation’s unemployment insurance system, which was set up to compensate those who have lost their jobs, can’t keep up with the number of new unemployment claims surpassing the 20 million mark. A major reason for the problem is that the agency relies on COBOL, an outdated programming language that few programmers seem to know. So those who are unemployed have yet to receive their weekly checks, which, with the stimulus, can be as high as $1,000.


ACLU sues City of Baltimore over aerial surveillance


The City of Baltimore has reportedly entered into a contract that will allow private phone companies to conduct aerial surveillance and search for evidence. The pilot program claims to be designed to investigate murders, nonfatal shootings, armed robberies, and carjackings. The ACLU is challenging the program on the Fourth Amendment’s reasonable expectation of privacy guarantee and the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of association.


Will students take the SAT online


The SAT and ACT college entrance exams announced last week that they’d be developing digital versions of the test to allow prospective students to take them from home. But the SAT’s bosses at the College Board, namely its President, David Coleman, say that it’s unlikely the SAT would be conducted online. Over the past few years, many have question whether the SAT is even necessary, including Cornell, New York University, UT Austin, American University, and others, which have eliminated the requirement that students take the SAT as an admissions prerequisite. And many advocates point to the likelihood that administering the tests remotely would exacerbate current achievement gaps since the quality of testing environments would vary significantly between low-income and high-income test takers. In any case, the June, in person SAT has been cancelled.


President seems confident, but does he have the data to back him up?


President Trump has been adamant that he wants to reopen the government by May 1st. But where’s the data to back him up? The CDC has opened up their data to the public, but much of it is weeks old and conflicts with other data being conducted by research institutions. You can read more in Fedscoop.


How much privacy should we give up to defeat COVID-19?


Finally, Privacy concerns stemming from the use of mobility data to combat the novel coronavirus has opened up a passionate debate around the precedent policymakers are setting regarding the use of private data. Google and Apple are working together on technology intended to facilitate contact tracing so infected individuals and everyone they encountered in person can be notified and told to stay home. But not only will this require over a hundred thousand employees to carry out, it also would rely on mobility data, including Bluetooth data.  We’ve linked to an interview with Berkman Center Executive Director Urs Gasser in which he explains some of the ways mobility data can be used to combat coronavirus and what the privacy implications are.