Newly released records appear to show that many Silicon Valley companies including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon have thousands of previously-unreported contracts with the U.S. military and law enforcement, including ICE and the FBI.
Business Insider reports that a number of subcontracts between Silicon Valley tech firms and the U.S. military were obtained by open records requests by the accountability nonprofit Tech Inquiry. The records show that tech giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft have more than 5,000 agreements with agencies such as the Department of Defense, ICE, the DEA, and the FBI.
Jack Poulson, a former Google researcher who left the company in 2018, led the research by Tech Inquiry into the companies government contracts. Poulson told NBC News:
Often the high-level contract description between tech companies and the military looks very vanilla and mundane.
But only when you look at the details of the contract, which you can only get through Freedom of Information [Act] requests, do you see the workings of how the customization from a tech company would actually be involved.
Business Insider explains that subcontracts are when one contractor cannot carry out all of the duties of their federal contract and as a result, they hire a third party to fulfill certain aspects of their federal contract. For instance, many military and law enforcement contractors subcontracted with Google, Amazon, and Microsoft to handle elements such as cloud computing and data processing.
Microsoft reportedly had over 5,000 subcontracts with law enforcement while Amazon and Google have several hundred subcontracts. Recently, Amazon announced that it stands with the Black community in the fight against “systemic racism and injustice,” shortly after protests over the death of George Floyd began across the United States.
However, despite claiming to stand with protesters, Amazon has a long history of working with law enforcement, specifically in the development of facial recognition technology. Breitbart News reported in July of 2019 after 15 months, a pilot test aiming to bring Amazon’s facial recognition system, called Rekognition, to the Orlando Police Department had ended. City police reportedly ended the test after multiple technical issues resulting in the technology failing to work correctly and a lack of resources on the police department’s part. It now appears that Amazon has many other unreported government and law enforcement contracts.
In 2018, Google employees protested the company’s government contracts and work with the Pentagon to make military drones more accurate. 31,000 employees signed an open letter insisting that Google end its work on Project Maven, which was described as “a customized AI surveillance engine that uses ‘Wide Area Motion Imagery’ data captured by US Government drones to detect vehicles and other objects, track their motions, and provide results to the Department of Defense.” Google later agreed not to renew the contract but appears to have continued many other government contracts.
Microsoft recently pledged to implement racial personnel quotas as the company works towards “addressing racial injustice” and announced that the firm stands in solidarity with Black Lives Matter. BLM has repeatedly called to defund the police yet it appears that Microsoft has several thousand contracts with government bodies and law enforcement agencies.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org