Microsoft employees protest: 'Stop work with ICE over cruel border policies'

Microsoft employees protest: 'Stop work with ICE over cruel border policies'

Without clarifying the exact details of the work Microsoft is doing for ICE, and what manner of computation the company's Azure cloud computing platform is providing for the government agency, Microsoft did clarify that it was not working "on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border", and that it was "not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this objective".

Microsoft released a pair of statements after critics raised concerns about a January blog post in which the company wrote it was "proud" to supply tech services to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), including its Azure cloud computing service and the ability to use "deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification".

In response to questions we want to be clear: Microsoft is not working with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Customs and Border Protection on any projects related to separating children from their families at the border, and contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this goal.

In an open letter published by The New York Times, employees say that they "refuse to be complicit" in ICE's policy of breaking apart migrant families that come to the USA without legal documentation.

The letter by Microsoft employees is the latest collective action by the employees of a Silicon Valley tech giant to protest the business dealings of its employer. There was also no mention of cancelling the $19.4m contract with ICE called for by the staffers because, hey, that's just legacy email and stuff, OK?


Reflecting this perspective, for more than a decade we've made the protection of children in immigration proceedings one of Microsoft's signature civic initiatives.

The controversy over Microsoft's involvement with the ICE stems from an Authority to Operate (ATO) that the agency granted to Azure Government earlier this year.

The Donald Trump administration is drawing criticism for separating families with the children while it cracks down on illegal immigrants.

This new policy implemented on the border is simply cruel and abusive, and we are standing for change.

The technology giant was hit with a barrage of criticism on social media on Monday after an old blog post promoting its contracts with the USA federal agency resurfaced. It did not address the company's contract with ICE or the employee letter. 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. While the contract was largely ignored initially, recent policy decisions by the Trump administration regarding immigration have fomented considerable discontent both within the company and without. We will always stand for immigration policies that preserve every person's dignity and human rights.

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