back to article Crypto-upstart subpoenas Glassdoor to unmask ex-staff believed to be behind negative reviews. EFF joins the fray

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has teamed up with Glassdoor to fight off a cryptocurrency exchange that is trying to discover which of its ex-employees may have dissed the firm online. In January 2019, digital-dosh biz Kraken laid off a number of staff, said to be more than 50 in news reports around that time. Several …

  1. JohnFen Silver badge

    Thanks, EFF!

    I have yet to feel that I'm wasting my money by giving the EFF a regular monthly donation.

  2. jake Silver badge

    Brilliant.

    Apparently nobody at Kraken has been online long enough to know the fastest way to get a bad reputation.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Brilliant.

      It's not like they had a sterling reputation before this.They are being sued for wrongful termination by a California whistleblower, face a number of lawsuits for failing to pay people,and were investigated by the New York Attorney General who turned over the findings to the New York Department of Financial Services for potential violation of New York's virtual currency regulations. And that's just off the top of Google's head.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Brilliant.

      They must not have heard of the Streisand effect.

      What happens when the employer gives bad or untrue references without authorization? So much harder to prove isn't it and so much more damaging.

      For instance here https://www.trustpilot.com/reviews/5d6f4b5bf018690b54271963

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Brilliant.

        And they might have inadvertently Unleashed the Kraken here.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Brilliant.

        Indeed. A classic case of "point Streisand gun at foot and pull trigger". They've done a fine job of immortalizing the comments in question here and no doubt on other sites.

        I keep hoping that firms will come to realize that the litigation-happy lawyers who pull this sort of stunt are a PR liability and get rid of them.

  3. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge
    Happy

    Kraken

    Man, it would be really terrible this article were to become the number one search engine hit for the combination of terms "Kraken" and "crypto." Kraken. Crypto. Terrible, I say.

    1. Imhotep

      Re: Kraken

      Kraken Crypto? Kraken Crypto?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Kraken

        Can I exchange them for some spiced rum?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Pirate

          Re: Kraken

          That might Jack everything up, according to a little Sparrow that I was talking with.

          Why is the rum gone?

    2. Peter D

      Re: Kraken

      The Streisand Effect in action. Do people never learn.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Business Model

    So, if someone doesn't like some aspect of Kraken's business, and posts a negative review, they can expect to be sued? I'll have to admit that that particular business model never crossed my mind before.

    1. ScottK

      Re: Business Model

      https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-07/adelaide-lawyer-wins-defamation-payout-over-bad-google-review/11942064

      1. Adam 1

        Re: Business Model

        According to aunty, the reviewer in that case wasn't a customer. But an interesting side note in Australia (but not necessarily related to that case) is that truth is a defense you could run. That is to say, if you can back up the claims in your review with evidence the company may find themselves with a judgement against them. A nice tag line in your review pointing out how these facts have now been established in a court of law would be epic.

    2. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Business Model

      In this case, they're suing because the people who left the reviews are ex-employees who signed a non-disparagement contract. Kraken is alleging that those review violate that contract. That isn't any better, but it isn't a case of Kraken suing a customer for leaving a bad review.

      1. BillG
        Alert

        Re: Business Model

        they're suing because the people who left the reviews are ex-employees who signed a non-disparagement contract

        Kraken does not know if the people that left the reviews are ex-employees who signed a non-disparagement contract taking away their legal right to speech. The reviews could have been written by ex-employees who resigned or existing employees, neither of which signed that horrible contract, in which case their suit would dox innocent people.

        Once after a layoff, to get my termination payout I was TOLD (not asked) to sign a similar termination agreement that also prohibited any contact with the company's former or existing employees. I refused, they went batsh*t insane - fun to watch!

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Business Model

          > Kraken does not know if the people that left the reviews are ex-employees who signed a non-disparagement contract taking away their legal right to speech.

          Correct, which is probably why they want Glassdoor to reveal the identities, in order to make that determination. Also, it's established law that non-disparagement clauses in contracts (in the US) cannot restrain people from stating their opinions. In other words, the clause can prevent you from saying "the company is criminal", but not from saying "the company behaves in a way that I consider intolerable." Well, they can say they do, but courts cannot enforce that because it's a first amendment violation. That's the case that the EFF is making.

        2. Graham 32

          Re: Business Model

          > Kraken does not know if the people that left the reviews are ex-employees who signed a non-disparagement contract taking away their legal right to speech.

          From the article:

          > In June last year, Payward sent a letter to multiple former employees demanding that whoever was responsible for posting reviews of the company on Glassdoor remove them. The individual represented by the EFF, referred to as J. Doe, deleted the posts at issue after the email was sent.

          Assuming this is all about the same post I think Payward have reasonable suspicion the person is one of those emailed. IANAL so I can't say if that suspicion is of any legal value.

          If I had made posts like that and then received a request to delete I would do absolutely nothing. How many other people received the request? For all I know the company could be doing a Coleen Rooney on me.

          1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Business Model

            If I had made posts like that and then received a request to delete I would do absolutely nothing

            Nor would I, since the non-defamation clause is illegal under state law, and thus has no force.

            Frankly, the existence of a non-defamation clause or similar in termination paperwork is a pretty good sign that the company needs to be defamed, in my opinion. I hope Kraken and Payward lose this case and go broke in the process.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Business Model

        "In this case, they're suing because the people who left the reviews are ex-employees who signed a non-disparagement contract."

        That would be a contract which can't legally exist under the laws of the state it was signed in

  5. spold Silver badge

    Acting to type...

    "In both Norwegian and Swedish Kraken is the definite form of krake, a word designating an unhealthy animal or something twisted" a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster of gigantic size.

    Maybe they should rebrand as Calamari - sounds more palatable, just need to change the behavior then. Hint, don't take your severance in the cryptocurrency.

  6. jason_derp Bronze badge

    Kraken Crypto?

    Kraken Crypto is an exchange I guess? Payward owns them, but which I mean, crypto exchange Kraken? All of these Kraken references, they're not based on the crypto thing, it's a Pirates of the Caribbean reference right? I think they say Kraken in that movie, but not so much crypto... Are there more ways to cram in another Kraken crypto?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Kraken Crypto?

      it's a Pirates of the Caribbean reference right?

      No.

      It's an Alfred Tennyson reference, or a John Wyndham reference, or a Herman Melville reference, or a Scandinavian folk-tale reference...

      1. Alistair Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Kraken Crypto?

        Actually Alister:

        I honestly think that in Kraken this case Crypto, that the comment Crypto that you are referencing Kraken is purely a Google Crypto and Kraken reference, or perhaps Kraken a DuckDuckGo crypto reference, or possibly even a Bing Crypto Kraken reference.

        <Waiting on AMfM's response>

      2. Tom 35 Silver badge

        Re: Kraken Crypto?

        Can't be a John Wyndham reference, they re-titled that "Out of the Deeps" for the US.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Kraken Crypto?

          Could easily be a Wyndham reference. Us Yank SciFi fans know the book by it's original title, and have done since long before the Kraken CEO was out of three cornered pants.

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Kraken Crypto?

        China Miéville reference?

        (I've enjoyed all of Miéville's novels, but Kracken is particularly suitable for people who haven't read his work and might want to try it out. Like King Rat it's set in contemporary London, so the reader isn't dropped wholesale into a fantasy world; but it's a more mature and developed novel than King Rat. Nothing about cryptocurrencies in it though.)

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Krapen Crypto

    Oh sorry a typo...

  8. Mr Dogshit

    You mean people use their real identities on Glassdoor?

  9. DrXym Silver badge

    Well if you lay off staff...

    ... you've got to expect negative reviews. People get a tad annoyed when they are out of a job.

    That said, Glassdoor is a terrible site akin to Yelp & others with sloppy vetting of reviews, and a clear financial incentive to shake down companies to have their negative reviews removed or shunted for more positive ones. It'll be interesting to see what discovery says about that.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sometimes the company ASKS you to take a package

    A while back I quit a job and the company actually asked me to take a severance package. I didn't quite understand why they'd actually want to pay me to go to another job, especially when they'd countered with a rather nice raise and been refused. As my 2nd line manager explained over some brews after I'd left, HR just wanted to make sure I was covered by the covenant not to sue for age discrimination, disparagement, etc. Who was I to turn down over half a year's salary to not do anything I hadn't planned on doing? Especially since I wasn't annoyed by that company, just more excited by the new job's opportunities.

    But seriously, anyone who posts something even remotely critical on something like Glassdoor without a VPN and a throwaway email account is doing it wrong.

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: Sometimes the company ASKS you to take a package

      But seriously, anyone who posts something even remotely critical on something like Glassdoor without a VPN and a throwaway email account is doing it wrong.

      I'm inclined to Crypto agree with Kraken users of sites like Glassdoor requiring Crypto vpn facilities and relatively anonymous Kraken identities. Especially since the Kraken Barbara Streisand crypto effect can come into play in both directions of crypto.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sometimes the company ASKS you to take a package

        Strangely I don't remember the guy who took a photo of Babs's pad. In fact, I even had to look up what sort of photos she was trying to suppress.

        I still cannot see how a VPN could help if you were releasing material that was subject to an NDA. Surely NDAs would not be used to suppress legitimate complaints?

  11. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Layoffs

    Layoffs will lead to some negative posts about a company, expect them and ignore them. Suing over negative comments will lead to nasty court fight that you stand a decent chance of losing by legally and morally. Ignoring them will not draw attention to the comments as the only people who are likely to even read them are people looking at you specifically. Kraken made sure I heard of them negatively and I have no interest in them, very stupid of their manglement.

    As far as reviews on Glassdoor and similar sites, expect the happy employees to post comments less often than the disgruntled and ex employees. In other words, take the reviews with a bit of a grain of salt that they are probably skewed.They are like any other online rating and should be used as such, useful but should if possible not be the only source of information. I would look at the general tenor and trends in the comments as well as the most recent.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wonder what would happen if they end up with a lot more negative reviews...

    Bit like Pizza Express, Andrew and the young girl...

  13. Aussie Doc
    Boffin

    Bugger

    These old eyes kept reading 'Kraken' as 'Karen' and I envisaged a woman with a particular haircut style demanding to see the manager.

    On reflection, it wasn't too far from the truth, I guess.

    Ms Streisand would agree, too, methinks.

    His are better than mine, obviously ------------------>

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    but we won't tolerate double-dealing...

    Isn't retrenching employees (in order to increase profits) also some sort of double-dealing?

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