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Google workers demand company not work with ICE, CBP

Employees said working with border agencies would make the search giant complicit in human rights abuses.

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Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. 

Claudia Cruz/CNET

More than 500 Google workers signed a petition Wednesday urging the search giant not to work with border agencies including US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The protest comes after CBP put out a request last month to partner with cloud service providers. Border agencies have been accused of human rights abuses for separating and detaining families. Google employees urged the company not to be "complicit" by providing services from its cloud business, which makes $8 billion a year in sales.

"We demand that Google publicly commit not to support CBP, ICE, or ORR [the Office of Refugee Resettlement] with any infrastructure, funding, or engineering resources, directly or indirectly, until they stop engaging in human rights abuses," the petition says. "History is clear: the time to say NO is now. We refuse to be complicit." 

Google didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

This isn't the first time Google employees have protested a government contract. Last year, Google workers spoke out against the company's work with the Pentagon on Project Maven, an initiative to use artificial intelligence to improve the analysis of drone footage. The protest prompted 4,000 Google workers to sign a petition and a handful of employee resignations. 

In response, Google said it wouldn't renew the contract. Soon after, CEO Sundar Pichai released a set of principles to guide the company's development of artificial intelligence. One of the principles is to refrain from developing AI for weapons, but the company said it would still pursue military contracts.