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Surveillance company harassed female employees using its own facial recognition technology

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A surveillance startup in Silicon Valley is being accused of sexism and discrimination after a sales director used the company’s facial recognition system to harass female workers. Verkada, which was valued in January at $1.6 billion, equips its office with its own security cameras.

Last year, the sales director accessed these cameras to take photos of female workers, then posted them in a Slack channel called #RawVerkadawgz alongside sexually explicit jokes. The incident was first reported by IPVM and independently verified by Vice.

Employees told IPVM that a group of men in leadership positions on the sales team, many of whom grew up in Danville and played football together in high school, contributed to a culture of sexism.

“Face match… find me a squirt,” the sales director wrote in Slack, according to the Vice report. The post was shared alongside images of employees taken from Verkada security cameras. “‘Face search,’ as it’s called, can pinpoint an individual in a sea of faces,” reported Vice. “The pinpointed face, in this instance, belonged to a Verkada employee, her mouth wide open.”

After the Slack incident was reported to HR, Verkada CEO Filip Kaliszan gave employees in the Slack channel a choice: leave the company or have their stock options reduced. All of them chose to stay and take the stock option cut, according to Vice. “I was shocked. To me that’s not just a fireable offense, that’s a career-ending offense,” one employee told IPVM.

On October 23rd, Kaliszan sent an email to employees addressing the incident. “As soon as leadership became aware of the incident, we launched a comprehensive investigation to understand what happened and who was responsible,” he wrote. “This investigation found that one person was responsible for instigating the incident and nine other members of the team were part of the Slack channel. By the time we became aware of it, the Slack channel had been deleted; we attempted to recover it but were unable to. That said, all of the participants were promptly disciplined with penalties proportional to their role in the incident. I imposed the largest financial penalty in our company’s history on the instigator and had individual disciplinary discussions with each of the other participants.”

Verkada board chairman Hans Robertson has said publicly that he intentionally hired a team of “sales athletes,” and Verkada’s strategy is to “make the culture really fun.”

Verkada has tried to differentiate itself from Amazon’s surveillance system Ring by saying that its clients, which include Juul Labs, Equinox, and Red Lobster, do not work with law enforcement agencies. But in a YouTube video called “Verkada for law enforcement,” the company says it works with the police department of Parkersburg, West Virginia.

In a statement emailed to The Verge, a Verkada spokesperson said: “Verkada does not tolerate sexual harassment or inappropriate behavior. This isolated incident was investigated and all individuals involved were disciplined accordingly. This process included our HR department working with the women impacted by this incident–offering professional and personal resources to ensure they supported our course of action and felt safe and comfortable in their jobs.”

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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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Apple will replace AirPods Pro for free with faulty noise cancellation, static or crackling

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Today, exactly one year after Apple first launched the AirPods Pro — and thus the same day the very first AirPods Pro owners will see their one-year warranties expire — Apple has launched a repair program that offers free repairs or replacements for another whole year if your AirPods Pro experience issues with noise cancellation or static.

Specifically, Apple will fix:

Crackling or static sounds that increase in loud environments, with exercise or while talking on the phone

Active Noise Cancellation not working as expected, such as a loss of bass sound, or an increase in background sounds, such as street or airplane noise

Apple says only a “small percentage of AirPods Pro” are affected by the issues, but it apparently wasn’t just an early batch — Apple says affected units were manufactured “before October 2020,” meaning every AirPods Pro ever made might be eligible. That’s quite a recall if so. Apple says it will repair faulty AirPods Pro for two years after you first buy them.

We’ve heard complaints about degraded noise cancellation before, and at least one Verge editor has replaced their AirPods Pro under warranty. It’s nice to hear that Apple isn’t just cutting buyers off as soon as that warranty expires.

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This 55″ 4K TCL Smart TV Hangs on Your Wall for $200

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

TCL 55″ S434 4K Smart TV | $200 | Best Buy

Best Buy has an insane deal going for a brand new 55″ 4K TCL smart TV. It’s the S434, which is pretty baseline for TCL’s lineup, but at just $200, there’s little to complain about. TCL’s panels are plenty sharp and accurate, and with this set, you’ll get HDR10 compliance for enhanced color and brightness in supported games and video content. This model has Android TV onboard for all your app needs, and with an included voice remote, all your favorite content is just a shout away with the help of Google Assistant.

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