Technology

Google employee who opposed Israeli military contract resigns


TEXAS:

A Google employee who became a high-profile opponent of the tech giant’s $1 billion artificial intelligence and surveillance contract with the Israeli military announced her resignation.

Ariel Koren, a marketing manager with the company, cited what she said is its creation of a hostile work environment due to her social activism.

“I am leaving @Google this week due to retaliation & hostility against workers who speak out,” tweeted Koren. “Google moved my role overseas immediately after I opposed its $1B AI/surveillance contracts with Israel. And this is far from an isolated instance.”

The controversy began when Koren protested Google’s $1.2 billion collaboration with Amazon and the Israeli military on a programme called Project Nimbus.

She spent more than a year organising her protest to persuade Google to pull out of the deal, including circulating petitions, lobbying executives and speaking out to news organisations.

Instead of listening to her concerns, Koren said Google blindsided her in November 2021 with an ultimatum: either agree to move from San Francisco in the US state of California to Sao Paulo, Brazil, or lose your job.

Koren said there was no business justification for the mandated move and filed a complaint with the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB).

However, both Google and the NLRB investigated her complaint and found no wrongdoing, according to multiple media reports.

In an online post written Tuesday on the publishing platform Medium, Koren said her outspoken views and social activism prompted Google to stifle her by relocating her employment overseas.

“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,” she wrote with the headline “Google’s Complicity in Israeli Apartheid: How Google Weaponises ‘Diversity’ to Silence Palestinians and Palestinian Human Rights Supporters.”

“Google is weaponising its DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) and ERG (Employee Resource Group) systems to justify the behaviour, so it is no coincidence that retaliation has disproportionately impacted women, queer, and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of colour) employees,” she continued.

Koren, who is Jewish, has worked for the company for more than seven years and said Google’s actions to stifle outspoken workers — not just herself — has been par for the course.

“I have consistently witnessed that instead of supporting diverse employees looking to make Google a more ethical company, Google systematically silences Palestinian, Jewish, Arab, and Muslim voices concerned about Google’s complicity in violations of Palestinian human rights — to the point of formally retaliating against workers and creating an environment of fear,” she emphasised in her post.

“In my experience, silencing dialogue and dissent in this way has helped Google protect its business interests with the Israeli military and government,” Koren continued. “I encourage Googlers to read up on Project Nimbus and to take action at go/Drop-Nimbus.”

Google has not issued a response to Koren’s claims.




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