Google staff held after protesting firm's US$1.2 billion contract with Israel

The protest was broadcast live by the activist organisation No Tech For Apartheid.

18 Apr 2024 11:46am
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Bernama
Photo for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Bernama

SAN JOSE - A group of nine Google employees was arrested on Tuesday night, after staging an eight-hour sit-in at the company's offices in New York and California, reported German news agency (dpa).

The employees were protesting against Google's involvement in Project Nimbus, an Israeli government contract worth US$1.2 billion that covers cloud computing and artificial intelligence services from Google and Amazon Web Services.

During the sit-in, workers in New York occupied the common area of the Chelsea office's 10th floor, while employees at the Sunnyvale, California campus, took over the office of Google Cloud chief executive officer Thomas Kurian.

The protest was broadcast live by the activist organisation No Tech For Apartheid, which claims to represent tech workers who are against doing business with Israel.

The latest protests were triggered by a TIME story that revealed Google is providing cloud computing services to the Israeli Ministry of Defence.

According to the report, Google gave the ministry a 15 per cent discount on consulting fees because of the "Nimbus framework" as per the contract and the ministry had paid the tech company more than US$1 million for consulting services.

Since its announcement in 2021, Project Nimbus has faced ongoing internal protests at Google and Amazon.

In response to the protests, Anna Kowalczyk, the manager of Google Cloud's external communications, stated via email to The Verge that Project Nimbus has nothing to do with the Israeli military.

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Kowalczyk clarified that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on Google's commercial cloud by Israeli government ministries, who agreed to comply with Google's Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy.

She added that Google's work is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services. - BERNAMA-dpa

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