Tech Employees Unhappy At Govt Use Of Their Work
By Denise Henderson, posted on 31 October 2018
In 2015, Apple drew intense praise and criticism for its refusal to hack one of its own products following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. The company claimed to field nearly a dozen requests from law enforcement every day, and said there was no proof that such a workaround would remain under their control.
Basically, inventing this mechanism would open the floodgates for the government to violate citizens’ privacy.
Unfortunately, the kind of commitment to protecting consumers via technology isn’t as widespread as the public might hope. Employees of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and more have all raised complaints about their hard work being sold to various governments for purposes that they don’t deem positive.
Why are they unhappy?
Microsoft and Amazon employees have made vocal outcry about their tools being sold or marketed to ICE, the special immigration police force in the US. Microsoft’s software has been used in data keeping and analysis of immigrants and detainees, while Amazon has recently shopped its facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies.
Google employees have taken issue with a few different projects, including one that helps the Pentagon analyze drone footage for better target shooting as well as a “censored” search engine for use in China.
The matter is so serious for the tech innovators themselves that students at some of the country’s most prestigious universities have signed a pledge to never work for a tech giant that maintains military or law enforcement contracts.
What does everyone else think about this?
Unfortunately, it appears that some tech companies themselves see no problem with taking on clients for their innovation, knowing that the software and hardware may be used for purposes that many citizens disagree with.
Not all companies seem so unconcerned about how their work is used, though; Google’s AI-powered military drone work called Project Maven is already slated to end in 2019 and the company says it will not seek a renewal.
Eric Adams, March 19, 2019