Google employees rally against cloud computing contract for US border agency

Google employees rally against cloud computing contract for US border agency

Originally published by The Hill

Hundreds of Google employees have signed a petition calling for the company to pledge it will not launch a bid for U.S. Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) enormous cloud computing contract.

As of Thursday morning, more than 650 Google workers had signed the petition vowing they would "refuse to be complicit" in the creation of cloud computing infrastructure for CBP, which they claimed would help facilitate "human rights abuses" at the border.

The petition is continuing to circulate internally at Google.

CBP in a filing last month said it is looking for companies to provide the agency with cloud services as part of the government's efforts to improve its technology infrastructure.

The Google workers are asking the company to disavow any future ties to CBP, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR).

"We demand that Google publicly commit not to support CBP, ICE, or ORR with any infrastructure, funding, or engineering resources, directly or indirectly, until they stop engaging in human rights abuses," the workers wrote.

Google has a growing cloud computing business, though it lags behind Amazon Web Services and Microsoft's Azure.

Google's workforce has been rocked by internal protests over the past several years, including several specifically targeting Google's work with the government.

The company opted not to renew an artificial intelligence contract with the Department of Defense last year after a wave of employee dissent.

And it pulled out of the running to win a massive $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon several months later, saying "we couldn't be assured that it would align with our AI Principles."

Google's artificial intelligence principles, released for the first time last June amid a wave of scrutiny over who the company is willing to do business with, state Google will not use AI to create "weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people."

The Google employees are arguing any contract with the agencies in charge of rolling out the Trump administration's punitive immigration policies would be a violation of those principles.

"History is clear: the time to say NO is now," the workers wrote. "It is unconscionable that Google, or any other tech company, would support agencies engaged in caging and torturing vulnerable people."

"And we are not alone — the world is watching," they concluded.

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