Google executives defend Project Nimbus at a general meeting

Google executives defend Project Nimbus at a general meeting

  • A Google executive told employees that its contract with Israel does not extend to military applications
  • Some workers say that Google’s other statements about the contract indicate that it will help the Israeli military.
  • A Google spokesman said the contract is for Israeli government ministries, such as health care.

Google executives recently tried to reassure employees that its controversial $1.2 billion cloud computing contract with the Israeli government will 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, Google Cloud’s head of international business, said the project, known as Project Nimbus, “is not targeted at highly sensitive military workloads.” confidential or classified relevant to intelligence services”. or weapons.”

He argued that Nimbus, which Google won in a public bidding process along with Amazon, is for other Israeli government departments. “The Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial platform by Israeli government ministries,” Fox-Martin said at Tuesday’s meeting. “We look forward to continuing to partner with Israel in the public sector.”

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai added that the company is “working with governments that have shared values ​​and making sure we help them in critical areas in line with our AI principles.”

Project Nimbus has been a flash point within the company, with some employees saying that providing services for Israel’s 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 artificial intelligence and machine learning tools could be used to surveil 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 the company’s work on Project Nimbus. .

A Google spokesman said the contract is for “workloads running on our business platform by Israeli government ministries” such as finance, healthcare, transportation and education. “However, our work is not targeted at highly sensitive or classified military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services,” the spokesperson added.

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

“The answer to the Nimbus question in general is exactly the same line Google Cloud spokespeople have been using since the No Tech for Apartheid action day on September 8,” this person said. They pointed to earlier statements a Google spokesperson made to WIRED acknowledging that the contract will provide Israel’s military access to Google’s technology.

“This is a common strategy at Google: Repeat PR talking points about civil services that could use our technology, and hide the dangerous military apps they pitch directly to customers and the defense industry press,” this person said.

As Google expanded its cloud computing business and tried to win government contracts, it was met with increasing controversy over its application. In 2018, critics criticized the company for its Project Maven, a Pentagon drone surveillance contract. He later chose not to renew the contract.

Do you work at Google? Do you have a tip? Contact reporter Tom Dotan via email at tdotan@insider.com or Twitter DM at @cityoftown.

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

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