Employees Stage Sit-Ins at Two Google Offices Over Contract With Israeli Government

Kos Temenes
By Kos Temenes
April 17, 2024Science & Tech
Employees Stage Sit-Ins at Two Google Offices Over Contract With Israeli Government
The Google building is seen in New York on Feb. 26, 2024. (Seth Wenig/AP Photo)

Google employees in two different office locations staged protests against the company over its involvement with the Israeli government. Google signed a billion-dollar contract with Israel in 2021.

The contract, known as Nimbus, operates jointly with Amazon and offers cloud computing services to the U.S. ally.

The protesters organized the sit-ins across Google’s Sunnyvale, California, and New York City offices. In Google’s Sunnyvale office, activists from the group “No Tech for Apartheid,” who organized the protests, entered the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, demanding the company drop the contract. They remained there for ten hours, according to the group per Los Angeles Times.

Workers and activist groups have opposed Nimbus since it was signed nearly three years ago. However, the ongoing war effort by Israel in Gaza following the Oct. 7 massacre has escalated further backlash.

Google Software engineer Emaan Haseem and her colleagues have voiced strong opposition to Google’s association with the Israeli government, being fully aware that doing so will likely jeopardize their careers at the tech giant.

“I would not like to lose my job. But I think that it is impossible for me to continue coming into work every week without acknowledging and loudly condemning Project Nimbus and any support for the Israeli government,” she told ABC7.

Since its inception, Project Nimbus served as a tool to facilitate sharing of multiple Google and Amazon services with several Israeli government agencies. Some Google employees became concerned upon learning that the services could not be shut down by the company, and that certain government branches could not be barred from accessing these services.

The services extended to Israel’s Defense Ministry, to which Google has provided cloud computing services, according to a report by Time Magazine last week.

“Google Cloud supports numerous governments around the world in countries where we operate, including the Israeli government, with our generally available cloud computing services,” a Google spokesperson told the Hill in a statement.

The spokesperson went on to say that the contract does not apply to classified branches of the government or military intelligence.

“We have been very clear that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial cloud by Israeli government ministries, who agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy. This work is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”

Furthermore, according to the spokesperson, the protests were largely organized by individuals who don’t work and are not affiliated with Google.

Activist group No Tech for Apartheid is a coalition of tech workers and organizers with MPower Change and Jewish Voice for Peace, according to Wired, which coalesced after Project Nimbus came into effect. The organization is mostly comprised of Muslim and Jewish activists.

Meanwhile, Google said that those employees who directly disrupted operations in the two locations would be subject to investigation and were put on administrative leave.

“A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a couple of our locations. Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and we will investigate and take action. These employees were put on administrative leave, and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety,” the statement to the Hill said.

NTD has reached out to Google for further comment.

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