Wednesday, 31 August 2022 09:08

Jewish Google employee to quit over cloud deal with Israel Featured

Jewish Google employee to quit over cloud deal with Israel Image by Jim Black from Pixabay

A Jewish employee of Google has said she intends to resign by the weekend due to what she claims are "retaliation, a hostile environment, and illegal actions by the company" after she protested against a US$1.2 billion (A$1.74 billion) cloud deal which Google signed with Amazon, the Israeli Government and military.

In a long post on the blogging site Medium, Ariel Koren said more than 700 Google employees had signed a petition calling for its retaliation against her over her protests against what is known as Project Nimbus.

"Instead of listening to employees who want Google to live up to its ethical principles, Google is aggressively pursuing military contracts and stripping away the voices of its employees through a pattern of silencing and retaliation towards me and many others," Koren claimed.

"Google is weaponising its DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) and ERG (employee resource group) systems to justify the behaviour, so it is no coincidence that retaliation has disproportionately impacted women, queer, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Colour) employees."

Protests from Google employees against contentious projects are not uncommon. In May 2018, more than a dozen employees quit over the company's involvement in Project Maven, a US Defence Department program that uses artificial intelligence to interpret video images and assist in targeting enemies in drone strikes.

The following month, Google told its staff that it would not renew its deal with the Pentagon on this project. However, it gave no assurance that it would not get involved in similar projects in the future.

In 2019, Google abandoned plans to launch a censored search platform in China after the plan was exposed in the media and resulted in protests outside its offices in 15 cities.

Details of Project Dragonfly, as it was known, were first reported by The Intercept. Google closed its offices in China in 2010 after it was discovered that the authorities had breached its servers there.

Koren said in her post: "I have consistently witnessed that instead of supporting diverse employees looking to make Google a more ethical company, Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights — to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear.

"In my experience, silencing dialogue and dissent in this way has helped Google protect its business interests with the Israeli military and government."

iTWire has contacted Google for its take on Koren's claims.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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