A group of Google employees are yet again speaking out against Google’s defense contracts, this time asking the company to shelve its $1.2 billion Project Nimbus contract for the Israeli government and military. Google partnered with Amazon to bid for the project.

Under employee pressure, Google has previously dropped one US government defence contract (Project Maven), and shied away from another (JEDI).

In a video posted on Youtube, a group of Google employees including Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, and Arab staff expressed their concerns over Project Nimbus, which they claim will provide surveillance and other forms of powerful AI technology to the Israeli government and military. They are also speaking out against “the anti-Palestinian bias” they have witnessed within the company. 

“By doing business with Israeli apartheid, Amazon and Google will make it easier for the Israeli government to surveil Palestinians and force them off their land,” said the group that calls itself Jewish Diaspora in tech.

While Google said Project Nimbus is a mere cloud computing contract for Israeli government, a report from The Intercept  pointed towards training documents and videos that showed Google is providing the Israeli government with a full suite of machine-learning and AI tools that would give Israel capability to surveil people and process vast stores of data on the Palestinian population.

Google employees’ protest against Project Nimbus has been led by a Jewish employee, Ariel Koren, who resigned from the company this week after protesting for over a year against the project and what she terms Google’s attempts to silence her.

“Instead of listening to employees who want Google to live up to its ethical principles, Google is aggressively pursuing military contracts and stripping away the voices of its employees through a pattern of silencing and retaliation towards me and many others,” Koren wrote in a letter to colleagues explaining her decision to resign.

Koren, who worked in Google’s marketing division, first spoke about the issue in an internal group for the Jewish Google employees, but said she was “put on moderation” by some group members, banning her from posting anything in the group.

She and other employees subsequently started the Jewish Diaspora in Tech group to continue their protest against the company.

As Koren resigned from Google, at least 15 other employees published audio testimonies against the company’s “anti-Palestinian” bias. Many among the activists are also holding press conferences in a multi-city protest across the US.

Tech giants face heat over political disagreements

Political disagreements among employees have been clashing with technology development and making talent shortages an even bigger issue among technology giants who are constantly trying to upend competition with new advancements in AI and other areas.

Four years ago, Google was forced to end its participation in a large US Department of Defense contract, Project Maven, which was supposed to use AI to interpret video information to target drone strikes. Four thousand Google employees signed a petition demanding the company and its contractors stay away from ever building warfare technology.

Seeing those protests, when it came to bidding for another DoD project called JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure), Google decided to stand down.

Similar calls have been made by employees of Microsoft and Amazon against projects that have political leanings or implications on wars. Technology workers across the industry have been participating in several protests as they stand up and speak out against injustice.

While Google has been on the back foot in earlier protests, this time Google doesn’t seem to be backing off as it slowed hiring and pushed employees to work harder.

In a clear sign that dissent would no longer be tolerated at the firm, Google spokeswoman Shannon Newberry spoke to The New York Times about Koren’s allegations, saying, “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy. We thoroughly investigated this employee’s claim, as we do when any concerns are raised.”

Aerospace and Defense Industry, IT Management

A group of Google employees are yet again speaking out against Google’s defense contracts, this time asking the company to shelve its $1.2 billion Project Nimbus contract for the Israeli government and military. Google partnered with Amazon to bid for the project.

Under employee pressure, Google has previously dropped one US government defence contract (Project Maven), and shied away from another (JEDI).

In a video posted on Youtube, a group of Google employees including Palestinian, Jewish, Muslim, and Arab staff expressed their concerns over Project Nimbus, which they claim will provide surveillance and other forms of powerful AI technology to the Israeli government and military. They are also speaking out against “the anti-Palestinian bias” they have witnessed within the company. 

“By doing business with Israeli apartheid, Amazon and Google will make it easier for the Israeli government to surveil Palestinians and force them off their land,” said the group that calls itself Jewish Diaspora in tech.

While Google said Project Nimbus is a mere cloud computing contract for Israeli government, a report from The Intercept  pointed towards training documents and videos that showed Google is providing the Israeli government with a full suite of machine-learning and AI tools that would give Israel capability to surveil people and process vast stores of data on the Palestinian population.

Google employees’ protest against Project Nimbus has been led by a Jewish employee, Ariel Koren, who resigned from the company this week after protesting for over a year against the project and what she terms Google’s attempts to silence her.

“Instead of listening to employees who want Google to live up to its ethical principles, Google is aggressively pursuing military contracts and stripping away the voices of its employees through a pattern of silencing and retaliation towards me and many others,” Koren wrote in a letter to colleagues explaining her decision to resign.

Koren, who worked in Google’s marketing division, first spoke about the issue in an internal group for the Jewish Google employees, but said she was “put on moderation” by some group members, banning her from posting anything in the group.

She and other employees subsequently started the Jewish Diaspora in Tech group to continue their protest against the company.

As Koren resigned from Google, at least 15 other employees published audio testimonies against the company’s “anti-Palestinian” bias. Many among the activists are also holding press conferences in a multi-city protest across the US.

Tech giants face heat over political disagreements

Political disagreements among employees have been clashing with technology development and making talent shortages an even bigger issue among technology giants who are constantly trying to upend competition with new advancements in AI and other areas.

Four years ago, Google was forced to end its participation in a large US Department of Defense contract, Project Maven, which was supposed to use AI to interpret video information to target drone strikes. Four thousand Google employees signed a petition demanding the company and its contractors stay away from ever building warfare technology.

Seeing those protests, when it came to bidding for another DoD project called JEDI (Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure), Google decided to stand down.

Similar calls have been made by employees of Microsoft and Amazon against projects that have political leanings or implications on wars. Technology workers across the industry have been participating in several protests as they stand up and speak out against injustice.

While Google has been on the back foot in earlier protests, this time Google doesn’t seem to be backing off as it slowed hiring and pushed employees to work harder.

In a clear sign that dissent would no longer be tolerated at the firm, Google spokeswoman Shannon Newberry spoke to The New York Times about Koren’s allegations, saying, “We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and publicly share our very clear policy. We thoroughly investigated this employee’s claim, as we do when any concerns are raised.”

Aerospace and Defense Industry, IT Management

By Hock Tan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Broadcom

I recently visited Washington, D.C. to meet with policymakers and government customers to talk about the future of cybersecurity. Broadcom Software solutions secure digital operations across the federal government, and our Global Intelligence Network (GIN) evaluates and shares insights on the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape with U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies to ensure the safety and security of our critical infrastructure customers and the cyber ecosystem.

During my visit, I had the honor of meeting two superb public servants working to secure our global information technology infrastructure: National Cyber Director (NCD) Chris Inglis and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Director Jen Easterly. President Biden could not have selected two more talented and experienced leaders to work closely with the world’s leading IT security companies and IT-dependent government agencies that comprise our virtual and physical critical infrastructures.

JCDC Collaboration

It can’t be overstated: without public-private collaboration to secure our critical virtual and physical networks, economies and governments around the world would be at the mercy of bad actors. It’s in that commitment of collaboration to better protect critical infrastructures that I was proud to be nominated by the President of the United States to serve on the National Security and Telecommunications Advisory Committee (NSTAC), and why Broadcom Software was honored to accept Jen Easterly’s invitation to be one of the first private sector “alliance members” in CISA’s Joint Cyber Defense Collaborative (JCDC).

Formed in August 2021, the JCDC is an action-driven forum that brings together federal agencies and the private sector to strengthen the nation’s cyber defenses through better planning, preparation, and information sharing. The JCDC showed quickly it could make a difference:In February 2022, our threat hunters uncovered Daxin, a sophisticated malware being leveraged as an espionage tool. We discovered that Daxin was targeting foreign governments that were not our customers. Thanks to our engagements with CISA through the JCDC, we informed the CISA team of the threat, and they connected us with the appropriate officials from the targeted foreign governments. Together, we were able to detect the malware and remediate infected computer systems. Jen and the CISA team also issued a Current Activity alert that linked to a Broadcom-published blog, alerting other government and critical infrastructure networks about Daxin.  

The Future

Given the success of the JCDC, and Broadcom’s overall engagement with the federal government, you can imagine how thrilled and honored I was to meet Chris and Jen in person and talk about additional ways we can deepen an already creative, collaborative, and productive partnership.

As the NCD, Chris and his team are developing a national cyber strategy that they will be presenting to the President later this year. Chris has written that to better protect the cyber landscape, we will need to shift the burden away from individual end-users of IT products toward larger, better-resourced private and public organizations. Rather than leaving it to end-users to find and add security to the IT products and services they use on their own, Chris would like to see security developed and integrated into the overall IT infrastructure more holistically. We at Broadcom Software already have undertaken a number of initiatives designed to build-in security in the development, implementation, and maintenance of our products, ranging from supply chain hardening to Zero Day prevention and notification.  Not every vendor takes these types of proactive measures, which presents policymakers with important questions on whether it’s better to regulate or to incentivize this shift, or to use a combination of both. While there are no straightforward answers to these questions, Broadcom Software will continue to offer safe and secure products.

Chris and Jen also have been tremendous advocates to promote private and public initiatives to build a stronger cyber workforce.  And they are taking steps to do something about it.  The most important assets essential to the security of IT networks and law-abiding nations are the talented professionals who make cybersecurity their cause and calling. Yet, skilled IT workforce shortages require both expanding and upgrading our overall talent pipeline, as well as improving communications between and within governments and the private sector. Jen has been highlighting CISA’s Cyber Innovation Fellows initiative, where private sector employees can be “detailed” to CISA part-time for up to six months to better understand CISA and work to build stronger relationships between the public and private sector. Jen was inspired by a similar program run by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in the UK, which has been enormously successful.  And Chris recently hosted the National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit at the White House, which focused on building our nation’s cyber workforce by improving skills-based pathways to cyber jobs and educating Americans so that they have the necessary skills to thrive in our increasingly digital society.

While these are important initiatives, what resonated with me most in our meetings is the value of Broadcom’s partnerships with the public sector, and especially with leaders like Jen and Chris and their exceptional teams. Meeting them during my visit was an important milestone for Broadcom Software, but more meaningful to me and our team is the continued collaboration and positive impact we will have going forward to protect critical infrastructures across government and industry.

Hock Tan, President and Chief Executive Officer, Broadcom:

Broadcom Software

Hock Tan is Broadcom President, Chief Executive Officer and Director. He has held this position since March 2006. From September 2005 to January 2008, he served as chairman of the board of Integrated Device Technology. Prior to becoming chairman of IDT, Mr. Tan was the President and Chief Executive Officer of Integrated Circuit Systems from June 1999 to September 2005. Prior to ICS, Mr. Tan was Vice President of Finance with Commodore International from 1992 to 1994, and previously held senior management positions with PepsiCo and General Motors. Mr. Tan served as managing director of Pacven Investment, a venture capital fund in Singapore from 1988 to 1992, and served as managing director for Hume Industries in Malaysia from 1983 to 1988.

Data and Information Security, IT Leadership