‘No tech for apartheid!’: Google workers revolt over $1.2 billion contract with Israel

‘No tech for apartheid!’: Google workers revolt over $1.2 billion contract with Israel

Time reports:

In midtown Manhattan on March 4, Google’s managing director for Israel, Barak Regev, was addressing a conference promoting the Israeli tech industry when a member of the audience stood up in protest. “I am a Google Cloud software engineer, and I refuse to build technology that powers genocide, apartheid, or surveillance,” shouted the protester, wearing an orange t-shirt emblazoned with a white Google logo. “No tech for apartheid!”

The Google worker, a 23-year-old software engineer named Eddie Hatfield, was booed by the audience and quickly bundled out of the room, a video of the event shows. After a pause, Regev addressed the act of protest. “One of the privileges of working in a company which represents democratic values is giving space for different opinions,” he told the crowd.

Three days later, Google fired Hatfield.

Hatfield is part of a growing movement inside Google that is calling on the company to drop Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract with Israel, jointly held with Amazon. The protest group, called No Tech for Apartheid, now has more than 200 Google employees closely involved in organizing, according to members, who say there are hundreds more workers sympathetic to their goals. TIME spoke to five current and five former Google workers for this story, many of whom described a growing sense of anger at the possibility of Google aiding Israel in its war in Gaza. Two of the former Google workers said they had resigned from Google in the last month in protest against Project Nimbus. These resignations, and Hatfield’s identity, have not previously been reported.

No Tech for Apartheid’s protest is as much about what the public doesn’t know about Project Nimbus as what it does. The contract is for Google and Amazon to provide AI and cloud computing services to the Israeli government and military, according to the Israeli finance ministry, which announced the deal in 2021. Nimbus reportedly involves Google establishing a secure instance of Google Cloud on Israeli soil, which would allow the Israeli government to perform large-scale data analysis, AI training, database hosting, and other forms of powerful computing using Google’s technology, with little oversight by the company. Google documents, first reported by the Intercept in 2022, suggest that the Google services on offer to Israel via its Cloud have capabilities such as AI-enabled facial detection, automated image categorization, and object tracking. [Continue reading…]

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