Microsoft Employees Rebel Against Company’s ICE Contract

Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, speaks at a media event in San Francisco, California on March 27, 2014. Microsoft is tapping into its software past as it maps its future in the rapidly changing world of Internet technology. Newly anointed Microsoft chief Satya Nadella on Thursday laid out a vision …
Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Microsoft employees are reportedly planning to take further action to convince the company to end their current contract with ICE.

Two Microsoft employees recently spoke to The Hill, stating that they plan to take further action to encourage Microsoft to end their $19.4 million contract with ICE following a company-wide email sent by CEO Satya Nadella. Nadella’s email was sent in response to an open letter from Microsoft employees which called for an end to Microsoft’s contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and demanded that the company institute a new rule that they would not work with clients that had broken international human rights laws.

Nadella’s email to employees read:

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

I consider myself a product of two amazing and uniquely American things — American technology reaching me where I was growing up that allowed me to dream the dream and an enlightened immigration policy that then allowed me to live that dream. My story would not have been possible anywhere else.

This new policy implemented on the border is simply cruel and abusive, and we are standing for change. Today Brad detailed our company’s position on this issue, as well as the immigration legislation currently being considered in Congress, and I encourage you to read his blog post.

I want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with the U.S. government on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border. Our current cloud engagement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads.

Microsoft has a long history of taking a principled approach to how we live up to our mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more with technology platforms and tools, while also standing up for our enduring values and ethics. Any engagement with any government has been and will be guided by our ethics and principles. We will continue to have this dialogue both within our company and with our stakeholders outside.

The immigration policy of this country is one of our greatest competitive advantages, and this is something we must preserve and promote. America is a nation of immigrants, and we’re able to attract people from around the world to contribute to our economy, our communities and our companies. We are also a beacon of hope for those who need it the most. This is what makes America stronger. We will always stand for immigration policies that preserve every person’s dignity and human rights. That means standing with every immigrant who works at Microsoft and standing for change in the inhumane treatment of children at the U.S. border today.

Satya

Microsoft employees now say that they are not satisfied with Nadella’s response and plan to write a follow-up letter but have yet to decide on an appropriate course of action. One employee told The Hill that some were planning to outline their displeasure over the ICE contract at the next meeting of MSPAC, Microsoft’s political action committee.

The Tech Workers Coalition has expressed their support of the Microsoft employees, saying in a statement: “We stand in solidarity with Microsoft workers who commit to never ‘just follow orders’ but to hold ourselves, each other, and the industry accountable. Detaining children in cages is against what the majority of tech workers stand for, and they don’t want to provide the technology that enables that to happen.”

Google also recently came under fire by employees for their contract with the Pentagon. Google employees reportedly argued for months over the company’s decision to help the U.S. Department of Defense analyze video footage gathered by military drones. Thousands of Google employees signed a petition stating that they oppose the company’s new project, approximately a dozen employees have quit over the issue. The employees that chose to quit the company reportedly left memos to colleagues explaining their decisions, which ranged from ethical issues relating to Google helping the U.S. Military to issues with Google slowly losing public trust.

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