Tech giants seek more defense contracts

Firms such as Google and Amazon are two of the technology giants that are making progress in obtaining contracts that are linked to the defense of countries. These situations are progressing despite the fact that workers have protested that they are linked to governments and their national defense issues. The main complaint is linked to what has been the work of these companies with cloud jobs with the Israeli government.


In recent days the epicenter of complaints was in different offices of Google and Amazon. Cities such as San Francisco, New York, North Carolina and Seattle were the scene of mobilizations of workers and supporters. Chants and signs were the way to protest against the moves that these technology companies have with world governments. Many Palestinian rights organizations also joined these protests. The movements gained momentum once the cloud computing contract under the name Project Nimbus, between the technology firms and the government of Israel, became known.

The global advance of technology giants

The site The Intercept has published a series of documents about Google and its technology contract. It includes artificial intelligence, face detection, video and sentiment analysis. Opponents of such agreements fear that Israel’s military may expand surveillance over Palestinians. This can occur in occupied territories and also, the fear of human rights violations in the region.

Atle Erlingsson, a spokesman for Google Cloud, said by email that the platform is proud of its collaborative work with different governments, including Israel itself. Erlingsson took the baton and accused the protesters of misrepresenting what Project Nimbus is all about. The spokesperson expressed that “our work is not directed at highly confidential or classified military workloads.”

However, he had to acknowledge that the contract will provide Israel’s military access to all of Google’s technology. For its part, Amazon has remained silent or, for the time being, its response has taken longer than expected to reach the media.

Past situations

This situation brought to mind what Google experienced in 2018. At that time, thousands of workers had to sign a letter because of the company’s contract with the U.S. government. The so-called Marvel Project linked the tech giant to a drone surveillance contract for the Pentagon. This contract led dozens of employees to denounce the arrangement, which was protested even by academics, including Larry Page, former Stanford advisor to Google’s co-founder.

In the end, Google was forced not to renew the contract with the U.S. government. In addition, it had to publish a set of principles on Artificial Intelligence, which was intended as an approach to ethical guidelines in the activity. The same is now happening with the Nimbus Project, where several employees have been opposing the company’s failure to fulfill some of its promises. Particularly, those that have to do with information violations or the surveillance of people, something that Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have taken a close look at.