Microsoft staff pressure company to ends ‘inhumane’ contract with US border patrol agency

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Wed, 20 June 2018) London, Uk – –

Microsoft staff have demanded the company end its contract with the US’s border patrol agency, adding to pressure on the company after controversy over the separation of migrant parents and their children at the border with Mexico.

In an open letter posted to Microsoft’s internal message board, more than 100 employees protested the company’s work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The contract includes providing software processing and artificial intelligence for ICE, and Microsoft has insisted it has nothing to do with implementing a recent policy that has seen around 2,000 children being removed from their migrant parents.

The letter, addressed to Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella, states: “We believe that Microsoft must take an ethical stand, and put children and families above profits.

“As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit.”

“We are part of a growing movement, comprised of many across the industry who recognize the grave responsibility that those creating powerful technology have to ensure what they build is used for good, and not for harm.”

Satya Nadella responded to his staff demands on Wednesday with an email saying it is an “incredibly important topic and one I care deeply about”.

He said: “Like many of you, I am appalled at the abhorrent policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the southern border of the US As both a parent and an immigrant, this issue touches me personally.

Despite deeming the new policy as “simply cruel and abusive”, the Microsoft boss did not hint that the business would be ending its contract with the agency. He added that Microsoft was not working with the federal government on any projects to separate families, and the contract focuses on is supporting the agency's legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads.

The employee’s letter is part of a wave of recent protests from the tech industry against President Trump’s new “zero tolerance” border policy, that prosecutes all immigrants arrested crossing the border without permission.

Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla and SpaceX, tweeted that he was a “top donor” to the American Civil Liberties Union and said that “if there is some way for me to help these kids I will do so.”

Sundar Pichai of Google, Dara Khosrowshahi of Uber and Chuck Robbins of Cisco also tweeted their opposition to the policy.

Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, in an interview with The Irish Times, called the immigration policy “heartbreaking.”

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said he found the policy “gut-wrenching” and urged the government to find a “better, more humane way that is reflective of our values as a nation”.

By Joseph Archer