Google fires 28 employees that protested controversial contract with Israeli govt


Google fires 28 employees that protested controversial contract with Israeli govt

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Google fires 28 employees that protested controversial contract with Israeli govt

Google has laid off 28 members of staff after they had organised a protest at their offices in the US. This comes after the 28 employees had been protesting against Google’s lucrative—and controversial—cloud computing deal with the Israeli government and military.

The 28 employees had staged sit-in protests inside the Google office in New York City and Sunnyvale, California. At the latter protest, some employees had even entered the office of Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud as part of the demonstration.

The staff at the Sunnyvale office would continue to protest for almost 10 hours, when eventually they were arrested by law enforcement. The group behind the protests, No Tech For Apartheid, claim that it was Google who ordered the arrests of the protesting employees.

Google then fired the 28 employees that were protesting, and in a statement to news outlets in America said that a small number of employee protesters had ‘disrupted’ a few of their locations. The tech giant would then fire the 28 employees after concluding an investigation into the matter.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behaviour.

After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety,” – Google spokesperson

No Tech For Apartheid later issued a statement of their own, highlighting Google’s decision to arrest them rather than engage with them over their concerns regarding the cloud computing contract that they had with Israel. They had repeatedly requested to speak to Thomas Kurian but their requests were denied; they added that they had tried to also engage with Google executives about the controversial deal through company channels prior to this but to no avail.

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“Workers have the right to know how their labor is being used, and to have a say in ensuring the technology they build is not used for harm. Workers also have the right to go to work without fear, anxiety, and stress due to the potential that their labor is being used to power a genocide. Google is depriving us of these basic rights, which is what led us to sit-in at offices across the country yesterday,” – No Tech For Apartheid statement

Project Nimbus, a USD1.2 billion contract with Israel

The controversial contract in question is Project Nimbus, a contract worth USD1.2 billion signed between Google Cloud, Amazon and the Israeli government back in 2021. At the time, Google Cloud said that it was going to Israel to make it easier to serve their customers, and that they would provide public cloud services to help Israel in the public sector, such as healthcare, transport and education. They had also previously denied involvement in sensitive or classified military work.

However, a recent report from TIME Magazine claims that Google had been providing cloud computing services to the Israeli Ministry of Defence as well as strengthening their partnership in light of their war against Gaza. It claims that the Israeli Ministry of Defence has its own secure entry point or ‘landing zone’ into Google Cloud, giving it access to AI services and a place to store and process data.

Google had also allegedly been consulting the Ministry of Defence on expanding its Google Cloud access, with the bill for the consulting service alone rising to over USD1 million. TIME’s report meanwhile came about after other media outlets alleged the military of using an AI-powered airstrike system when bombing Gaza, which would’ve required cloud computing infrastructure.

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Google did not comment on the TIME article. However, that has not stopped concerned employees and No Tech From Apartheid from protesting and voicing their concerns about Google’s involvement.

“We will not stay silent in light of Google’s bare-faced lies. Hundreds and thousands of Google workers have joined No Tech for Apartheid’s call for the company to Drop Project Nimbus. Despite Google’s attempts to silence us and disregard our concerns, we will persist.

We will continue to organize and fight until Google drops Project Nimbus and stops aiding and abetting Israel’s genocide and apartheid state in Palestine,” – No Tech For Apartheid

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