Pro-Hamas Tech Workers Protest Google’s Contacts with Israel at Developer Conference

pro-hamas protesters outside Google developer conference
Anadolu/Getty

Dozens of protesters blocked the entrance to Google’s developer conference on Tuesday, demanding an end to the tech giant’s collaboration with the Israeli government amidst the country’s war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Google I/O conference in Mountain View, Calif., faced a protest on Tuesday by a group calling itself No Tech for Genocide, which accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. The group held two events, including a rally at a nearby park and a protest at the conference’s entrance, where roughly 90 people gathered for 90 minutes, chanting slogans and holding signs.

Pro-Hamas protesters at Google event

Pro-Hamas protesters at Google event

The protest at Google’s developer conference began at around 9:30 a.m., with protesters moving toward a bag checkpoint, leading to the conference’s entrance being closed. Attendees were redirected, causing a delay in the event’s proceedings.

Protesters demanded that Google cancel its cloud computing contract with the Israeli government, known as Project Nimbus. They believe the company’s technology is being used by the Israeli military for surveillance of people in Gaza through facial recognition, leading to the arrest and detention of Palestinians. Google has stated that its technology is used to support numerous governments around the world and that the Nimbus contract is for work running on its commercial cloud network and not for sensitive or military workloads.

One of the protesters, Ariel Koren, a former Google employee, shared her thoughts with the crowd: “We want to make sure that every single person who comes here and who might think that today’s a day about celebrating technological advancements — every single one of those people needs to understand that the reality is much darker than what Google has painted.” Koren alleges that the company retaliated against her in 2021 after she raised concerns about the contract. Google investigated the case and found no evidence of retaliation.

Andres Haro, a software security engineer, expressed his concern after witnessing the protest: “I feel that it is worth a shot to listen to others when they have a point of view.” Haro shared his plan to research Project Nimbus further, indicating the protest’s impact on attendees.

Roni Zeiger, who participated in the rally on Tuesday at Charleston Park, near the Google event, stated, “We’re asking more questions about what role we and our employers are playing in the world. World events have continued to evolve, and… people, including employees, are asking harder questions and wanting to work at places that are consistent with their values.”

The protest at Google’s developer conference coincided with Palestinians’ commemoration of their displacement during the 1948 Israeli-Arab war. The protest also comes after more than 50 Google employees were fired following sit-ins and protests that took place at Google office locations last month protesting Project Nimbus.

Read more at the Los Angeles Times here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship.

via May 15th 2024