Over 1,600 Google workers have signed an open letter to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding the company stop selling its technology to police forces across the US. The letter comes as protests against police brutality, spurred by the killing of George Floyd, continue to spread for the fifth straight week.
The letter says, “We want Google to take real steps to help dismantle racism” which has been circulating at Google since Wednesday. “We as a society have moved past the point where saying Black Lives Matter is enough, we need to show it in our thinking, in our words and in our actions that black lives do matter to us.”
However, the Employees are specifically calling out Google’s ongoing Cloud contract with the Clarkstown Police Department in New York, which was sued for allegedly conducting illegal surveillance on Black Lives Matter protestors in 2015. They are also highlighting the company’s indirect support of sheriff’s department in Arizona tracking people who cross the US-Mexico border and donating to racist politicians.
Earlier this month, Sundar Pichai wrote another open letter expressing solidarity with the Black community and announcing Google would give $12 million to organizations working to address racial inequality. Also, he revealed initiatives to hire more black workers at all levels, providing them support within the company, and announced Google would give $175 million in support of Black business owners and job seekers, last week. However, Google’s workers have rightly pointed out the company can’t claim to care about Black lives while simultaneously helping and profiting from the structures that endanger them.
The demand comes roughly two weeks after Amazon announced a one-year moratorium on police using its facial recognition tool. IBM went even further, pledging to stop developing facial recognition technology altogether, due to potential human rights abuses. Moreover, the letter has been circulating among Google employees and has received a notable amount of support in that short time. So far, employees say that haven’t received an official response from the company management.
In a statement, a Google spokesperson tells that the company has no plans to cease its work with the government, law enforcement agencies, or police departments, citing Google’s ethics guidelines as protections against abuse. Also, “We are committed to work that makes a meaningful difference to combat systemic racism, and our employees have made over 500 product suggestions in recent weeks, which we are reviewing.