LOS ANGELES, Wednesday, August 31, 2022 (WAFA) – Google employees have protested their company’s $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government and military called Project Nimbus, which aims to silence and profile pro-Palestine voices in the high-tech company and around the world.
“Google’s Project Nimbus will be an ugly moment in Google’s history and shameful and embarrassing engagement,” said one employee who preferred to remain anonymous in fear of retaliation.
“I have found Google’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program to be a whitewash, it’s more of a tool for censorship and control than for truly supporting employees,” said another.
One Jewish employee of Google, Ariel Koren, said she has decided to quit Google, where she worked for over seven years, due to retaliation against her for protesting Project Nimbus
“My name is Ariel Koren. I am a Jewish Google worker who has worked at Google for over seven years. I feel so grateful to over 700 Googlers (alongside 25,000 people externally) who recently signed a petition calling on Google to rescind its act of retaliation against me for protesting Google’s Project Nimbus—a $1.2 billion contract between Google, Amazon, and the Israeli government and military,” wrote Koren.
“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. I encourage Googlers to read up on Project Nimbus and to take action at go/Drop-Nimbus,” she wrote.
In May 2021, right in the middle of the Israeli military violence against Gaza, Google quietly announced its most important support of Israel’s violence: Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud computing contract between Google, Amazon, and the Israeli government and military. While details are intentionally scarce, the agreement says Google will help construct data centers and provide cloud infrastructure to several Israeli government agencies, including Israel’s military, and the Israel Land Authority, which is the agency responsible for stealing more Palestinians’ land for illegal Israeli settlements.
What is worse, the contract explicitly prevents Google from shutting down its services in the future, including in the event of employee protest. The contract explicitly makes the company powerless to stop its services regardless of whether Israel uses the technology to aid human rights violations.
Documents reported on by The Intercept show that through Project Nimbus, Google will provide advanced AI tools to Israel. The Nimbus training documents emphasize “the ‘faces, facial landmarks, emotions’-detection capabilities of Google’s Cloud Vision API,” and in one Nimbus training webinar, a Google engineer confirmed for an Israeli customer that it would be possible to “process data through Nimbus in order to determine if someone is lying”.
It is clear that the tools provided through Nimbus have the potential to expand Israel’s pattern of surveillance, racial profiling, and other forms of tech-assisted human rights violations despite the world’s largest search engine knowledge that it is contracting with a military actively carrying out war crimes and upholding apartheid, while workers have no say in how the technology provided is used.