By Ken Winterbottom
Access to nude photos is a ‘perk’ of working at the NSA, Snowden says
Edward Snowden recently leaked new information about the infamous NSA global surveillance scandal. In an interview with the Guardian, Snowden’s choice of media outlet since the original disclosures last summer, the controversial whistleblower denied allegations that he was a Russian spy and remarked that if he ended up detained in Guantanamo Bay, he could “live with that.” Snowden also revealed, however, that NSA employees routinely abused their positions by sharing intercepted nude photographs around the office. These racy images “are seen as the fringe benefits of surveillance positions,” Snowden says.
Although the NSA has declined to comment as to the veracity of these allegations, an NSA spokesperson stressed that the agency has a zero tolerance policy for violations of professional standards, Ars Technica reports. That being said, reports of employee misuse of the government surveillance system are not new: In 2005, an NSA staff member was caught using surveillance data to spy on his ex-girlfriend on his very first day on the job.
Record label slams YouTube star with copyright infringement suit
Ultra Records filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, accusing popular YouTube personality Michelle Phan of using its songs in her videos without a license. Phan, a makeup guru who became a media sensation thanks to her tutorial videos, in which she uses cosmetics to make herself look like celebrities and film characters, is alleged to have illegally used Ultra’s music despite having been informed that she did not have permission to do so. The plaintiffs have alleged several dozen instances of copyright infringement, and is seeking $150,000 in damages for each one.
Kaskade, one of Ultra’s artists whose songs Phan has used in several videos, some of which are enumerated in the complaint, has spoken out in support of the YouTube star. “Copyright law is a dinosaur,” the musician said, expressing his disapproval over the suit but conceding that he was incapable of stopping it from going forward.
A spokesperson for Phan said the lawsuit was meritless, claiming that Ultra had agreed to allow her to use its music and that Phan intended to countersue.
Study shows women are still underrepresented among technology leaders
This summer, the Silicon Valley Bank released its fifth annual Innovation Economy Outlook survey, which presents findings on trends in technology and entrepreneurship. The study had a generally optimistic tenor, finding, for example, that 65% of U.S. companies met or exceeded their 2013 revenue goals, and that business conditions are expected to improve in 2014.
In the area of gender diversity, however, the industry is lagging: Less than 50% of tech companies have women serving in leadership positions. This statistic places the U.S. behind Europe and Asia in terms of female representation, though a Forbes commentator noted that this does not necessarily mean that U.S. companies are less empowering or diversity-friendly.
The results of the survey only confirmed estimates based on existing data from top companies—only 37% of Yahoo employees, 31% of Facebook employees, and 30% of Google employees are female, according to the respective tech giants’ internal demographic statistics. The paucity of women in science, engineering, and technology-related fields is by no means a new discovery, and has been the subject of much commentary, even spurning attempts by leading companies to close the ‘gender gap.’
Yet while the disparity persists, there are signs that the situation may be improving. Last Winter, a Bureau of Labor Statistics report found that tech firms are now hiring more women than men, though whether this trend will continue remains to be seen.