In today’s Bulldog wrapup of technology and science news:

  • San Francisco broadens lawsuit against Uber
  • Netflix faces protests over baby benefit
  • Twitter’s stock falters
  • Good news for Raleigh startup K4Connect
  • Duke is opening a drone lab on the coast

The details:

  • San Francisco district attorney expands Uber lawsuit

The San Francisco district attorney announced Wednesday the expansion of a consumer-protection lawsuit aimed at Uber’s claims about driver background checks.

District Attorney George Gascon said Wednesday that the growing ride-hailing company continues to unfairly claim it is rigorously checking the background of its drivers. Gascon said Uber can’t make that claim unless it puts it drivers through the same fingerprinting process required of taxi drivers in California.

Gascon made his comments a day after his office filed an expanded lawsuit in San Francisco Superior Court accusing Uber of false advertising. The expanded lawsuit claims Uber failed to uncover the criminal records of 25 California drivers, including several registered sex offenders and a convicted murderer.

“This is really only scratching the surface,” Gascon said at a news conference.

Gascon and Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey filed the original lawsuit in December. The lawsuit doesn’t object to Uber’s background checks, but it objects to the company’s claim that it uses an industry-leading process to vet its drivers. Anything short of fingerprinting can’t make that claim, Gascon said.

  • Netflix facing protests over DVD-less baby benefit policy

Netflix is getting jeered for excluding the employees in its DVD-by-mail service from a recently introduced benefit that gives up to a year of paid leave to most of its workers after the birth or adoption of a baby.

At least three online petitions posted by activist groups are urging Netflix to extend the baby benefit beyond the roughly 2,000 workers in the Internet video service that generates most of its revenue.

Netflix has about 450 temporary, part- and full-time employees in its steadily shrinking but still profitable DVD division.

The protesting groups contend Netflix is unfairly favoring the mostly high-paid computer programmers and other technology specialists working in its Internet video service over the lower-paid employees who sort through discs and stuff envelopes in the distribution centers that receive and send DVDs.

Many of the DVD workers are paid by the hour and make a fraction of the six-figure salaries doled out to many of the Internet video service employees. Netflix pay varies widely, ranging from $15 per hour for customer-service representatives to more than $200,000 annually for software engineers, according to information shared by company workers on employer review website

  • Twitter’s stock falls below IPO price on user growth worries

Twitter’s battered shares dipped below their IPO price on Thursday as investors worry about the company’s ability to grow its user base.

Shares of the San Francisco-based short messaging service fell 5.8 percent to close at $26, after trading as low as $25.92 during the day amid a broader market decline.

Twitter went public in November 2013 at an initial public offering price of $26 per share.

The stock is down 29 percent since Twitter’s July 28 earnings report, when it warned that boosting its user growth rate will take a long time.

The challenge for Twitter is broadening the appeal of its service to the mass market amid fierce competition from Facebook as well as messaging apps like WhatsApp or Snapchat. While many people are familiar with Twitter, the company has not been able to convince people that they need it.

In addition, Twitter is also without a permanent CEO, although co-founder Jack Dorsey is at the helm on an interim basis.

  • K4Connect’s first deal

k4Connect, a Triangle startup focused on the Internet of Things led by serial entrepreneur Scott Moody, has landed its first big contract and is looking for more funding.

David Ranii of The News and Observer reports that the deal is worth $1.4 million and will see K4Connect technology used an senior living facilities.

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  • Duke’s drone lab

Lauren Ohnesorge of The Triangle Business Journal reports that Duke University will soon open a lab for drone research on the North Carolina coast.

The idea is to use drones in marine research.

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