Google executives defend Project Nimbus at town hall meeting

Google executives defend Project Nimbus at town hall meeting

  • Google executive tells employees his contract with Israel does not extend to military apps
  • Some workers say Google’s other statements about the contract indicate it will help the Israeli military.
  • A Google spokesperson said the contract was for Israeli government departments like health.

Google executives recently tried to assure employees that its controversial $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government would not support the country’s sensitive military work.

In leaked audio transcripts of the company’s weekly meeting and shared with Insider, Adaire Fox-Martin, head of international affairs for Google Cloud, said the project – known as Project Nimbus – is “not intended for highly sensitive or classified military workloads relevant to intelligence services”. or weapons.”

She argued that Nimbus, which Google won in a public tender with Amazon, is intended for other Israeli government departments. “The Nimbus contract is for workloads performed on our business platform by Israeli government departments,” Fox-Martin said during Tuesday’s meeting. “We look forward to continuing to partner with Israel in the public sector.”

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai added that the company “works with governments that share values ​​and ensures that we help them in critical areas consistent with our AI principles.”

Project Nimbus has been a flashpoint within the company, with some employees saying providing services to the Israeli government, which could use those services for its military, is a violation of Google’s core values. A report in The Intercept detailed how Google’s machine learning and AI tools could be used to monitor Palestinians.

Earlier this month, several Google employees in offices including San Francisco and New York publicly protested the deal following the resignation of Ariel Koren, a former Google employee who spoke out against it. the company’s work on the Nimbus project.

A Google spokesperson said the contract was for “workloads performed on our business platform by Israeli government departments,” such as finance, health, transportation and education. “However, our work is not directed toward highly sensitive or classified military workloads involving weapons or intelligence,” the spokesperson added.

Some employees who attended Tuesday’s meeting said Google executives’ assurances about Project Nimbus contradict what the company has said elsewhere.

“The answer to the Nimbus question to all is the exact same line that Google Cloud spokespersons have been using since the No Tech for Apartheid action day on September 8th,” this person said. They pointed to earlier statements that a Google spokesperson had made WIRED acknowledging that the contract would provide the Israeli military with access to Google technology.

“It’s a common strategy at Google: to repeat public relations talking points about public services that might be using our technology and to hide the dangerous military applications they present directly to customers and the defense industry press.” , said this person.

As Google has expanded its cloud computing business and tried to win government contracts, it has increasingly run into controversy over their application. In 2018, critics slammed the company for its Project Maven, a Pentagon drone surveillance contract. He then chose not to renew the contract.

Do you work at Google? Do you have any advice? Contact journalist Tom Dotan via email at tdotan@insider.com or Twitter DM at @cityofthetown.

Contact reporter Rosalie Chan via email at rmchan@insider.com, Signal at 646.376.6106 or Telegram at @rosaliechan.

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