Google Employees Demand Company ‘Defang and Defund’ Law Enforcement Agencies
Employees at tech giant Google are reportedly demanding that the company stop selling software to law enforcement agencies. Employees believe the company should be ” joining the millions who want to defang and defund these institutions.”
Recode reports that more than 1,600 Google employees have signed an internal petition calling for the firm to stop selling its software to police. The petition comes as protests continue across the country relating to the recent death of George Floyd.
The petition states: “We’re disappointed to know that Google is still selling to police forces, and advertises its connection with police forces as somehow progressive, and seeks more expansive sales rather than severing ties with police and joining the millions who want to defang and defund these institutions.”
The petition as stated by a group of Google employees called Googlers Against Racism and is addressed to CEO Sundar Pichai. “Why help the institutions responsible for the knee on George Floyd’s neck to be more effective organizationally?”
Google did not respond to a request for comment for Recode. It is unknown just how closely Google works with U.S. law enforcement agencies, it is known that Google sells cloud-based software like the business version of its Gmail product through a third-party vendor to at least one police department, the Clarkstown Police Department in Rockland County, New York.
In a customer testimonial page, Google calls its software a “catalyst for culture change” at Clarkstown County Police Department. The Clarkstown Police Department was sued by Black Lives Matter activists in 2017 for allegedly conducting illegal surveillance on them.
Google has also provided AI technology to police departments via its venture capital arm, Gradient Ventures. The petition called on Google to truly support radical change, stating: “We want to be proud of the company we work for. We want the company we build to speak to our values and how we want to show up in the world.” The petition further called for the company to “take real steps to help dismantle racism.”
In 2018, Google employees protested the company’s work on Project Maven, which is described as “a customized AI surveillance engine that uses ‘Wide Area Motion Imagery’ data captured by US Government drones to detect vehicles and other objects, track their motions, and provide results to the Department of Defense.”