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Google worker says the company is 'silencing our voices' after dozens are fired

๐ŸŒˆ Abstract

The article discusses the firing of dozens of Google employees who were part of the "No Tech for Apartheid" group, which had been organizing protests against Google's $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government. The employees were protesting the contract, known as Project Nimbus, which they believe could be used against Palestinian civilians in the ongoing conflict.

๐Ÿ™‹ Q&A

[01] Google Employee Protests

1. What was the reason for the Google employee protests?

  • The Google employees were protesting the company's $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government, known as Project Nimbus. They were opposed to the contract because they believe the technology could be used against Palestinian civilians in the ongoing conflict.
  • The employees had been organizing through a group called "No Tech for Apartheid" to try to get Google to drop the contract, but felt their voices were being "silenced" by the company.

2. How did the protests unfold?

  • On Tuesday, the "No Tech for Apartheid" group staged sit-in protests in Google's offices in Silicon Valley, New York City, and Seattle, with over 100 protesters participating.
  • The next day, Google fired Zelda Montes and 27 other employees who were part of the "No Tech for Apartheid" group, in one of the largest mass firings seen in the tech industry.
  • During the protests in New York, the protesters unfurled a 15-foot banner that read "No tech for genocide" and played the card game Uno until they were approached by Google security and told to leave or be arrested.
  • Eventually, 9 protesters were arrested in California and New York.

3. What was Google's response to the protests?

  • Google said the protesters were "physically impeding other employees' work and preventing them from accessing our facilities", which was a "clear violation of our policies" and "completely unacceptable behavior".
  • The company said it had asked the protesters to leave multiple times before engaging law enforcement to remove them "to ensure office safety".
  • Google stated that its cloud services support several governments around the world, including Israel, but that the Project Nimbus work is not directed at "highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services".

[02] Broader Context

1. How do the Google employee protests fit into the broader context of tech worker activism?

  • Workers at other major tech companies like Amazon and Facebook (Meta) have also clashed with their employers over speaking out against the war in Gaza and the companies' work with the Israeli government.
  • Last month, Google fired another software engineer who protested at an Israel tech event, indicating a pattern of the company cracking down on employee dissent around these issues.
  • The mass firings at Google are seen as one of the largest such incidents in the tech industry, as many Silicon Valley companies do work with Israel despite some employee discomfort.

2. What are the key concerns raised by the "No Tech for Apartheid" group?

  • The group says there is a lack of clarity on how the technology from the Project Nimbus contract is being used, and they fear it could be weaponized against Palestinian civilians.
  • They argue that "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."
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