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Hillicon Valley — Uber report finds thousands of assault claims

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Uber released its latest safety report revealing thousands of sexual assault claims, though the report emphasized that the overall rate has declined from previous years.

Meanwhile, more former Tesla employees sued the company over allegations of racial abuse.

This is Hillicon Valley, detailing all you need to know about tech and cyber news from Capitol Hill to Silicon Valley. Send tips to The Hill’s Rebecca KlarChris Mills Rodrigo and Ines KagubareSubscribe here.

Assault claims still in thousands, but dropping: report

Uber received more than 3,800 sexual assault reports from U.S. rides between 2019-2020, a decline of 38 percent from the previous two years, according to a safety report the company released Thursday.

The company said the decline could be in part related to the impacts of the pandemic, citing a drop from 2.3 billion rides in 2017-18 to 2.1 billion rides in 2019-20, but it also hailed recent safety investments and strengthened background check requirements.

“We’re constantly innovating and investing in the safety of our platform,” the company said in the report. “We’ve prioritized robust screening processes and technology, built new safety features and invested in providing riders and drivers with support in times of need.” 

  • Uber said riders were the accused party in 43 percent of sexual assault reports in 2019-20, which it noted was on par with previous years.
  • The report further broke down five categories of sexual assault, saying a majority of the reports involved nonconsensual touching of a sexual body part. 

Read more here

More Tesla employees allege racial abuse 

A group of 15 Black current and former employees of tech giant Tesla sued the company on Thursday over accusations of racial abuse.

  • Plaintiffs claimed that they were harassed based on their race, with colleagues and managers using the N-word and other racially charged terms, including “slavery” and “plantation,” in daily interactions, according to Reuters.
  • Tesla’s “standard operating procedures include blatant, open and unmitigated race discrimination,” the lawsuit reads, particularly at its Fremont, Calif., factory where the abuse is said to have occurred. 

“It is rare for Blacks to work here. I don’t know how long you will be able to stay here,” one plaintiff recalled hearing alongside racial slurs. 

Read more about the suit.

LAWMAKERS PUSH FOR DIVERSITY IN FINANCE SECTOR

House lawmakers are looking to hold venture capital firms accountable for fostering ‘tech bro culture’ in financial technology services, with data showing that the vast majority of companies the firms invest in are owned by white men.

Lawmakers at a House Financial Services subpanel Thursday blasted private equity firms for leaving minority and women-founded businesses behind, and discussed ways to turn the tide as capital injections into the sector continue to surge.

  • Venture capital investments into financial technology companies nearly doubled last year, reaching $35 billion, according to House figures.
  • But only 1.8 percent of venture capital-backed owners were Latino, and 1 percent were Black. And just 2 percent of venture funding went to companies founded solely by women.

Read more here.  

TROUBLE FOR TRUTH 

A federal grand jury in Manhattan and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have both subpoenaed former President Trump’s media company, according to an SEC filing dated Friday.

  • Digital World Acquisition Corp, which is seeking to merge with Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG), disclosed in its filing that the blank-check company had been informed that TMTG had been given a subpoena from the SEC on Monday and a separate subpoena from a federal grand jury in Southern District of New York on Thursday.
  • The SEC’s subpoena is “seeking documents relating to, among other things, Digital World and other potential counterparties for a business transaction involving TMTG,” according to the SEC filing. 

The subpoena from the federal grand jury in Manhattan is “seeking a subset of the same or similar documents demanded in subpoenas to Digital World and its directors,” the filing notes. 

Read more.

BITS & PIECES

An op-ed to chew on: This crypto winter is warm compared to the next one  

Notable links from around the web: 

AI made these stunning images. Here’s why experts are worried (CNN / Rachel Metz) 

TikTok tells Republican senators how it plans to keep American data away from China (The New York Times / David McCabe) 

Google will delete user location history for abortion clinic visits (The Washington Post / Gerrit De Vynck) 

One more thing: Robot workplace woes 

American workers who work alongside robots are more likely to suffer negative mental health effects, despite being less prone to physical injury, according to a recent study.

  • For the study, researchers analyzed data on workplace injuries in the U.S., finding that injuries were reduced by 1.2 cases per 100 workers in regions with one standard deviation increase in robot exposure.
  • But in regions where there were significant numbers working with robots, there was an increase of 37.8 cases per 100,000 workers in drug or alcohol related deaths.   

Osea Giuntella, an expert in labor economics and economic demography and an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh, said in a news release that although there’s evidence how robots affect workers’ employment and wages, researchers “still know very little about the effects on physical and mental health.” 

Read more here.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Technology and Cybersecurity pages for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you next week

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