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Google settles harassment claim of man paid to hang around shopping malls

GOOGLE HAS settled a race discrimination claim brought by a UK citizen of Moroccan parentage who claims the company’s actions led to him being racially profiled.

Ahmed Rashid (a pseudonym to protect his identity) had a new contract with the search giant whipped out from under him after making complaints over harrassment which occurred as he was conducting clandestine research for the company.

Google had employed Rashid to explore shopping malls of this great land, as part of the company’s attempts to improve indoor navigation on Google Maps.

Testing the strength of WiFi signals in the buildings let Google more accurately map user location within areas where GPS would not reach. Project Expedite, as it was known saw him walking around shops for up to 12 minutes waving his phone about. 

Part of the role required him not to identify himself to management and staff, which led them to suspect his activity was suspicious.

The Guardian reports Rashid’s explanation: “There was a complete disregard for the safety and interest of contractors. This research was being conducted in secret at the expense of the security of Google contractors that fit a stereotypically Muslim/Arab profile.”

Although Rashid was employed by a contractor, the claim was brought directly to Google for commissioning the work. Colleagues have confirmed that none of them were provided with Google ID to show if challenged.

“I was worried going to work because I thought I might get arrested. That’s what I was living with for 10 months, it was so isolating. It pushed me point of feeling suicidal. The looks I was getting, I just felt completely outcast.”

Google denies any wrong doing, but settled with Mr Rachid in return for signing an NDA contract. Mr Rachid broke the contract in the wake of the recent walkout by staff as part of the #metoo movement.

Google said in a statement: “We often work with service providers to measure wifi signal strength, which helps us improve Google’s mapping products. All employees and contractors are provided with clear guidelines that outline the details of their project and role, and they’re instructed to be forthright about the fact that they’re working on behalf of Google.”

The ID card wasn’t really a big ask though, really.

Apple has been working on a similar scheme after it bought out Wifislam in 2013. Apple Maps directions are more likely to take you into a janitors closet at the bottom of a 30-foot cliff that doesn’t exist, however. μ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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