Google employees complain about company contracts with ICE and CBP


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A petition signed by more than 1,000 Google employees asks the company executives to stop working with the U.S. immigration and control agencies.

The petition quotes the mistreatment of “refugees” and “asylum seekers” and calls for Google to retreat from any existing or future infrastructure, fundings, and engineering resources allocated to Customs and Border Protection and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The petition also cites Google’s AI Principles, stating that the company will not develop and use technologies that could be detrimental to the internationally accepted principles of human rights laws.

“By any interpretation, CBP and ICE are in grave violation of international human rights law,” reads the petition.

Last year, protests by its employees led Google to withdraw from a collaboration with the government on a project named Maven, which uses AI to recognize video images and could significantly increase the accuracy of drone strikes. Just a few months after, Google had to drop out of the running for a $10 billion JEDI contract, due to contrasts with its AI ethics.

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According to a posting on CBP’s website, Google – along with IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Amazon – is already cooperating with the agency by providing cloud infrastructure. The government states that a new, long-term cloud contract for a technology called Cloud Smart is currently under development and will be ready in 2020. This will include infrastructure to “streamline CBP work,” reads the posting.

The petition cites 2017 protests when Google’s co-founder and Alphabet president Sergey Brin joined the protesters against President Donald Trump’s immigration order. It argues that the agencies are responsible for illegally detaining asylum seekers, separating children from families and generally mistreating human beings.

“In working with CBP, ICE, or ORR (Office of Refugee Resettlement), Google would be trading its integrity for a bit of profit, and joining a shameful lineage,” the petition reads. “In January of 2017, thousands of Googlers, including our executives, joined together to protest the Trump administration’s Muslim Ban. This was the right thing to do and we are proud to work at a place that reflects these values.“

Google did not make any comment on the matter.

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Filippo Cestaro
Filippo Cestaro is a tech news writer with a strong focus on AI, machine learning, and big data. His interests include AI singularity and transhumanism. He is also a contributor to Scuba Zone Magazine and joined with the University of Milan to publish work on the psychology of scuba diving. [email protected]