Future Tech

Protest group says Google has fired more staff over sit-ins opposing work for Israel

Tan KW
Publish date: Tue, 23 Apr 2024, 07:40 AM
Tan KW
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Future Tech

After firing 28 people for protesting its cloud deal with Israel by occupying its offices, Google reportedly spent the weekend letting go of more staff to bring the number of employees let go over the incident to an even 50.

The latest count comes from No Tech for Apartheid (NTFA), a protest group organized to call attention to the issue of Project Nimbus, a cloud deal between Google, AWS and the Israeli government. NTFA claimed to have knowledge of the additional firings in a
livestreamed press conference held on Monday, during which some of the terminated employees to speak publicly.

Of the many speakers on the call, all said they had been fired by Google in the wake of the protests, though several assert they were only tangentially involved in any protest action.

One anonymous speaker, going by "Oreo," said that they, a Palestinian now-former Google employee with relatives in Gaza, only went into one of the protest sites to meet some of the participants of the sit-in. Afterward, Oreo claimed to have gone outside the building on public property to hold a sign in support of the protest.

Another anonymous speaker said that, while present, they weren't directly participating in the protest. Nonetheless, they were still fired, and claimed a friend and fellow Googler who claimed to have only dropped by the sit-in site to greet colleagues was also let go.

We've asked Google to comment on how it made decisions to dismiss staff, and to confirm the 50-person count, but haven't heard back.

One stormy Nimbus

Google has long maintained that Nimbus is focused solely on civilian government cloud computing needs - including when asked by The Register last week. But No Tech For Apartheid contests those claims.

Earlier this month, the group noted on the call, Time Magazine shared details on a deal signed between Google and the Israeli Ministry of Defense. That deal, dated in March, mentions Project Nimbus and saw Google agree to perform consulting work and to create a cloud "landing zone" to serve as a secure entry point into Google cloud services for military forces. Under the deal, Israeli’s military would use Google's cloud services for storing and processing data and accessing AI services.

According to the report, it's the first instance of a direct link between Google Cloud and the Israeli military being found after years of concern about Project Nimbus.

Another piece of info cited as evidence Israel’s military has help from Big Tech is a report from Israeli media last year about the "Habsora" AI, which the Israeli military used to generate target lists.

Fired Google employees are therefore convinced the biz is facilitating, as one speaker said, an "AI-powered genocide in Palestine."

Even though most of the Google employees on the call are now no longer employed by Mountain View, the group said it has no plans to stop protesting Project Nimbus.

No Tech For Apartheid has multiple goals, said call facilitator and former Googler Zelda Montes, who was arrested during the protest last week. It wants Google to drop Nimbus, address concerns of workers who are worried their labor is being used to power Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip, and for Google to end a culture of harassment of Muslim and Palestinian workers.

"Also, to reinstate all the workers," Montes said on the call. "We're not backing down." ®

 

https://www.theregister.com//2024/04/22/google_project_nimbus_firings/

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