More than 1,600 employees of Google and its parent company Alphabet have signed an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai asking them to stop working with police agencies in the United States. Google and Alphabet are supposed to end contracts with the police.
The letter, addressed to Pichai by a group called “Googlers Against Racism“, mentions that dealing with racism cannot be done only in words, but requires the abolition of the structures that promote it. Employees would have difficult but necessary conversations with the people around them, while being extremely disappointed with Google’s previous handling of the subject.
Instead of just making general claims, the open letter from Google employees even mentions specific contracts that exist between Google and certain police authorities in the United States. Among other things, they demand the end of the provision of cloud services for law enforcement agencies in New York and Arizona. They were sued in 2015 for illegal surveillance of civil rights activists or are involved in the surveillance of the Mexican border.
Employees see contradictions in Google’s behavior
The signers of the letter criticize, among other things, that the cooperation with police authorities, which are known for their questionable methods, stand in stark contrast to the statements made by Google boss Pichai and other alphabet managers on the subject of equal rights for people of different skin tones. Google had made hundreds of millions available for the promotion of African-American entrepreneurs and YouTube users, but at the same time benefited from income from the contracts with the police.
Google and Alphabet could not simultaneously call “Black Lives Matter” and contribute to the criminalization of the existence of people with dark skin tones, the critics said. An official response from management to the letter to Sundar Pichai signed by more than 1650 employees is pending. In a statement to the US media, a company spokesman declined to stop working with the U.S. government, police, and other agencies.
The Group spokesman referred to the company’s internal ethics guidelines, which stipulate, among other things, that facial recognition technologies are not sold commercially. There are also restrictions when using AI technology, which are intended to prevent use for the purpose of monitoring. At the same time, the Google representative also emphasized that the group would continue to offer services such as Gmail, GSuite, and the Google cloud platform for governments and local authorities – including the police.