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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Uber is facing Australian class action suit alleging ‘unlawful conduct’

As it gears up to go public Uber is facing legacy baggage down under: A class action lawsuit has been filed in Australia on behalf of around 6,000 taxi and hire car drivers and license owners, Reuters reported Friday.

The suit was filed Friday at the Victoria Supreme Court by personal injury and compensation law firm, Maurice Blackburn. It’s seeking compensation on behalf of thousands of taxi and hire car drivers and operators who believe they lost income or saw a fall in the value of their licence as a result of what it dubs “Uber’s unlawful conduct”.

The firm is still registering additional participants online — specifically those who were licensed to operate in four states, Victoria, Western Australian, New South Wales and Queensland, between a selection of dates spanning 2014 to 2017.

The argument behind the case is that Uber started operating illegally in the four states in 2014, by offering its UberX service which used vehicles and drivers without “the proper licences, accreditations and authorizations”, as it puts it — thereby leading to a drop in income and licence value for the plaintiffs in the class action. 

State laws were subsequently changed to put ride-hailing on a lawful footing so the case is focused on Uber’s past business conduct, with Maurice Blackburn alleging it operated unlawfully in each of the states for a period of time — hence the varying dates for registering participants. 

In a press release the firm writes that the case has been about 18 months in the making, noting too that the ‘no win, no fee’ class action is being underwritten by “one of the world’s largest litigation funders, Harbour”.

“Make no mistake, this will be a landmark case regarding the alleged illegal operations of Uber in Australia and the devastating impact that has had on the lives of hard-working and law-abiding citizens here,” said Maurice Blackburn’s national head of class actions, Andrew Watson, in a statement.

“It is not acceptable for a business to place itself above the law and operate illegally to the disadvantage of others. We’ve got a strong case, a strong team and substantial support from thousands of drivers, operators and licence owners nationwide,” he added.

The firm takes the view it has a better chance of winning compensation for plaintiffs by suing Uber, rather than the government for failing to enforce relevant regulations — pointing, for example, to Uber’s use of the controversial ‘Greyball’ software, which it describes as a “devious program”.

In 2017 the New York Times reported that Uber was using the software to identify members of code enforcement authorities or city officials trying to gather data about it offering service in areas where it’s prohibited and block their access to prevent their ability to enforce local rules.

“Uber sells the idea that it does things differently, but in reality and as we allege, this has meant operating unlawfully, using devious programs like ‘Greyball’. All of this caused extensive loss and damage to law-abiding taxi and hire car drivers, operators and licence holders across the country,” said senior associate at Maurice Blackburn, Elizabeth O’Shea, in another supporting statement.

“Uber came in and exploited people by operating outside of regulations and it was Uber’s conduct that led to horrible losses being suffered by our group members. For those reasons, we are targeting the multi-billion dollar company Uber and its associated entities to provide redress to those affected.”

The firm’s PR also includes a statement from lead plaintiff, Nick Andrianakis, a taxi driver, operator and licence owner from Brunswick, Melbourne, describing the impact of “a life’s work being stripped away from you”.

We’ve reached out to Uber for comment on the class action suit.

In a statement given to Reuters the company says it has not yet been served with a class action claim and denies it operated illegally, telling the news agency: “Uber denies this allegation and, if a claim is served making it, the claim will be vigorously defended.”

The law firm told the news agency that the level of damages being sought could run into “hundreds of millions of dollars” — while emphasizing that any compensation would be determined as part of the case or via settlement negotiations.

While Uber’s statement to Reuters implies it has no intention of seeking a settlement to make this latest legacy legal headache go away, two months ago it did just that in the case of a separate US class-action focused on driver pay and benefits.

In that case Uber agreed to pay $20 million to settle a suit, brought six years ago, which had claimed Uber classified its drivers as contractors to avoid paying them a minimum wage and providing benefits.

Though $20M is considerably less than Uber might have been on the hook for had an appeals court not overturned an earlier decision to grant class-action status to hundreds of thousands of drivers in California and Massachusetts — ruling instead that its arbitration agreements were valid and enforceable.

That decision reduced the number of drivers in the suit to around 13,600.


Source: TechCrunch

Lego introduces a new STEM Star Wars kit

No one does brand synergy quite like Lego. The company’s been one of the biggest Star Wars licensers over the years, and for the first time, it’s applying one of the most valuable pieces of IP to its own line of STEM kits, Lego Boost.

For this year’s Star Wars Day, the Danish company is announcing the arrival of the Lego Star Wars Boost Droid Commander set, which uses the underlying educational property as a jumping off point to build a trio of classic robots from the series.

Kids can use the kit to build R2-D2, Gonk and the Mouse Droid, commanding them on 40 different missions, while learning to build and code in the process. It looks like an effective way to disguise the whole learning bit behind one of history’s most beloved film series. It’s similar to the approach taken by littleBits’ Droid Inventor Kit a few years back — though Lego’s got a pretty remarkable track record of using Star Wars IP.

The set includes 1,177 pieces coupled with color and distance sensors and an interactive motor to get the robots moving. All of that works with a new Boost Star Wars app, which will be available for Android, iOS and Fire devices, featuring such missions as assisting an X-wing flight and seeking those sneaky rebels.

The system arrives on September 1, timed for the release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, the final film in the sequel trilogy.


Source: TechCrunch

Lego Star Wars Boost: Droid Commander could be the coding robot set you're looking for – CNET

R2, Gonk, and an Imperial Mouse (but where are C-3PO and BB-8?)
Source: CNET

Coinbase loses its first CTO after just one year in the job

Coinbase, the $8 billion-valued crypto exchange, has lost its CTO after Balaji Srinivasan announced his departure from the company.

Srinivasan became the U.S. company’s first CTO one year ago after it acquired Earn.com, where he was CEO and co-founder. Given the tenure — one year and one day — it looks like Srinivasan’s departure comes after he served the minimum agreed period with Coinbase.

A high-profile figure in the crypto space who has also spent time with Coinbase and Earn investor A16z, Srinivasan announced his move on Twitter. He declined to go into specifics but told TechCrunch that he plans to take time off to get fit, among other things, before launching into his next product.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong paid tribute to Srinivasan’s “incredible contributions” to the company.

Srinivasan’s time at Coinbase saw the company ramp up its expansion efforts. Those include the launch of its own USDC stablecoin, the expansion (and planned expansion) of assets sold to consumers and ‘pro’ traders, and a wider global push. Away from consumers, it launched a slew of services for retail investors and today its services also include staking and over-the-counter trading.

There’s also Coinbase’s own VC arm for doing deals with promising startups and, also on the M&A side, the firm has continued making acquisitions and acquihires. This year, it has snapped up Y Combinator graduate Blockspring and Neutrino, whose founders controversially once worked for surveillance firm Hacking Team, in what were its eleventh and twelfth acquisitions to date.

Talent retention appears to be becoming a bit of an issue at Coinbase.

Srinivasan’s exit comes a month after Dan Romero, the company’s head of international, left after a five-year stint. According to Coindesk, the company has seen at least a dozen senior or mid-level executives leave since October when it raised $300 million led by Tiger Global.


Source: TechCrunch

A glitch is breaking all Firefox extensions

Did you just open Firefox only to find all of your extensions disabled and/or otherwise not working?

You’re not alone, and it’s nothing you did.

Reports are pouring in of a glitch that has spontaneously disabled effectively all Firefox extensions.

Each extension is now being listed as a “legacy” extension, alongside a warning that it “could not be verified for use in Firefox and has been disabled”.

A ticket submitted to Mozilla’s Bugzilla bug tracker first hit at around 5:40 PM Pacific, and suggests the sudden failure is due to a code signing certificate built into the browser that expired just after 5 PM (or midnight on May 4th in UTC time).

Because the glitch stems from an underlying certificate, re-installing extensions won’t work — if you try, you’ll likely just be met with a different error message. Getting extensions back for everyone is going to require Mozilla to issue a patch.

In a post on the company’s forum, Mozilla Add-ons Community Manager Caitlin Neiman writes:

At about 6:10 PST we received a report that a certificate issue for Firefox is causing add-ons to stop working and add-on installs to fail.

Our team is actively working on a fix. We will update as soon as we have more information.

Meanwhile, on Twitter:


Source: TechCrunch

Thanos vs. Game of Thrones Night King: Here's who'd win – CNET

Thanos’ snap from Avengers: Infinity War wouldn’t have any effect on the Night King.
Source: CNET

Facebook and Instagram ban Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, other far-right figures – CNET

The social networks bar Jones and others for being “dangerous.”
Source: CNET

Google Doodle honors legendary surfer Eddie Aikau, savior of hundreds of lives – CNET

The only life he ever lost in a rescue attempt was his own.
Source: CNET

NASA's Astrobee robots are heading to ISS to help the astronauts video – CNET

The cube-shaped hovering robots are designed to help astronauts with basic tasks on the International Space Station and continue the development of human-robot interaction in space.
Source: CNET

Razer celebrates Star Wars Day with Stormtrooper-themed gaming accessories

Razer’s new Star Wars-themed gaming peripherals, consisting of a BlackWidow Lite keyboard, Atheris wireless mouse, and Goliathus mouse pad, are surprisingly affordable, coming in at just $10 more than their standard counterparts.

The post Razer celebrates Star Wars Day with Stormtrooper-themed gaming accessories appeared first on Digital Trends.


Source: Digital trends

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