At least 1,666 Google employees are demanding the company stop selling technology to police departments, according to a letter shared with Motherboard.
“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,” reads the letter. “Why help the institutions responsible for the knee on George Floyd’s neck to be more effective organizationally?”
Google employees also expressed frustration with Google’s praise of police departments like Clarkston PD that used G Suite software while facing lawsuits for illegal surveillance of Black Lives Matter activists, for funding military and police surveillance operations through GV—its venture capital arm, and for political donations to the campaign of white supremcaist former Congressman Steve King.
“Google is profiting off of these racist systems, and we believe this means Google is part of the problem,” the letter states. “The racist legacy of police across the United States goes all the way back to its roots, when police forces emerged to protect the wealth gotten from slavery and genocide. We have a long way to go to address the full legacy of racism but to begin with — we should not be in the business of profiting from racist policing. We should not be in the business of criminalizing Black existence while we chant that Black Lives Matter.”
Over the years, Google employees have spoken up against unethical projects by the company and have been systematically fired or pushed out of the company as a result. Still, Google employees have been able to win victories here: Google employees successfully pressured the company to abandon Project Maven—a Pentagon project that sought to use artificial intelligence to refine drone strikes and other military tactics—and JEDI, a multi-billion initiative to move the Pentagon’s data onto cloud computing servers.