Aug 29, 2023 - News

Tech workers to protest Project Nimbus at Google Cloud conference

Attendees at the 2019 Google Cloud Next conference in San Francisco. Photo: Michael Short/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A group of tech workers and community groups plan to protest Google's contract with the Israeli military and government at the company's Google Cloud Next conference tonight at Moscone Center.

Why it matters: Amid the ongoing tensions between Israel and Palestine, protesters hope to use Google's cloud conference as an opportunity to bring awareness about Project Nimbus to the company's customers former Google employee Ariel Koren, told Axios.

Context: Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion artificial intelligence and computing services agreement among Google, Amazon Web Services and the Israeli government and military, went into effect in July 2021.

  • In April, Google's cloud business became profitable for the first time, CNBC reports.

What they're saying: "Google is sending a message that the ruthless pursuit of military contracts" and profits will be prioritized over its publicly stated values and ethics, Koren said.

  • A goal of the rally, she said, is to influence Google Cloud customers' decision-making processes involving how they engage with the company.

The other side: Google did not respond to requests for comment but last year said Google Cloud's work as part of Project Nimbus "is not directed at highly sensitive or classified military workloads," a spokesperson told Wired.

  • The spokesperson, however, acknowledged Google does provide Israel's military with access to its technology.

Of note: Last fall, Koren resigned from Google after she said Google tried to retaliate against her for opposing Project Nimbus.

  • Yes, but: Both Google and the National Labor Relations Board investigated Koren's complaint and did not find any wrongdoing, according to The New York Times.

What to watch: Koren expects a large turnout at tonight's rally of Google employees, tech workers and community groups, including the Palestinian Youth Movement and Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area.

  • "There is a precedent for workers stepping up and taking a stance, and that actually being impactful," Koren said, citing worker protests in 2018 that led to Google's decision not to renew Project Maven, a Pentagon drone surveillance project.

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