Google workers urge CEO: 'No police contracts'

'Saying Black Lives Matter is not enough,' the group Googlers Against Racism said

Google workers urge CEO: 'No police contracts'

More than 1,600 Google employees – who call themselves Googlers Against Racism – are asking senior leaders to end the company’s contracts with police departments amid growing unrest over cases of police brutality in the US.

The employees have launched a signature campaign demanding CEO Sundar Pichai take a more concrete approach to societal issues, such as the excessive use of force of police authorities against members of the black community.

“We as a society have moved past the point where saying Black Lives Matter is not enough; we need to show it in our thinking, in our words and in our actions that Black lives do matter to us,” Google employees wrote in the petition ‘No police contracts,’ which was reviewed by CNBC.

Read more: High-profile leaders respond to US race protests

“The past weeks have seen a renewed energy and momentum fighting racism. They have also shown us that addressing racism is not merely an issue of words, but of actions taken to dismantle the actual structures that perpetuate it,” they said.

The employees also said they are “incredibly disappointed” by Google’s response, and alleged the company continues to make money off its ties with the police.

Despite Google’s pledge to donate US$175m in support of black communities and businesses and to elevate more leaders from historically underrepresented sectors, employees question why Google continues to “help the institutions responsible for the knee on George Floyd’s neck to be more effective organizationally”.

Floyd is a black American who died in police custody. Footage from a bystander showed white police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck just minutes before he lost consciousness and died. The incident has sparked protests across major cities in the US, and prompted corporate leaders like Pichai to take a stand against racism.

Read more: Microsoft workers call on leaders to scrap police contract

But Google also counts law enforcement agencies among its clients. One of them is the Clarkstown Police Department in New York which, Google employees said, “has been sued multiple times for illegal surveillance of Black Lives Matter organizers”.

Google’s artificial intelligence tools have also allegedly been used to “track down immigrants with drone surveillance footage,” the employees said.

A spokesperson for Google, however, told TechCrunch that the company has “very clear AI principles that prohibit [the tools’] use or sale for surveillance”.

“We have longstanding terms of use for generally available computing platforms like Gmail, G Suite and Google Cloud Platform, and these products will remain available for governments and local authorities, including police departments, to use,” the representative said.

Earlier this month, Microsoft employees also called on their leaders – CEO Satya Nadella and executive vice president Kurt DelBene – to cancel the company’s contracts with law enforcement agencies, and join calls to defund the Seattle Police Department, which has been sued for its “excessive” use of force against Black Lives Matter protestors.

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