Some Googlers Are Quitting Over the Company’s Cloud Contract with Israel

Mike Powers
Some Googlers Are Quitting Over the Company’s Cloud Contract with Israel

The Israeli assault on Gaza has sparked conflict at companies throughout the world. At Google, a company that has often tried to foster a public reputation of openness, the war seems to have sparked a growing number of staff to protest or quit.

Time magazine reports that the protest group No Tech For Apartheid, which lobbies against Google’s involvement with the Israeli government, now includes at least 40 Google employees. Recently, one member of the group, a 23-year-old then-Google software engineer named Eddie Hatfield, stood up at a company conference and shouted: “I am a Google Cloud software engineer, and I refuse to build technology that powers genocide, apartheid, or surveillance!” Not long afterward, Hatfield was fired, Time writes.

Since then, two Google employees say they have quit the company over its ongoing work on Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion cloud contract with the Israeli government. Nimbus is a joint effort between Google and Amazon to provide cloud, machine learning, and AI capabilities to the Israeli Ministry of Defense. The full extent of what Nimbus has been used for hasn’t been made clear. The Israeli government previously characterized the project as intended to “provide the government, the defense establishment and others with an all-encompassing cloud solution.”

Time characterizes people like Hatfield and the Googlers who quit as part of a “growing movement” within the company that wants the Israeli cloud project dropped. People involved with the activist group claim that, in addition to the several dozen Googlers who are active members of the group, there are “hundreds more workers [who are] sympathetic” to their goals. Gizmodo reached out to Google for comment and will update this story if it responds.

On its website, No Tech for Apartheid claims that “Google and Amazon are fueling the genocidal assault on Gaza through a $1.2 billion contract with Israel’s government & military” and asks visitors to “demand these companies immediately cancel Project Nimbus and end their complicity in Israel’s war crimes.”

Google and Amazon workers have been protesting Project Nimbus for years—since long before the October 7th Hamas attacks and the subsequent Israeli assault on Gaza. That said, the recent explosion of violence seems to have propelled the contentious issue back to the forefront of the company’s culture wars.

Google has recently made other efforts to curtail office discussion of Gaza. The New York Times reports that the company recently made efforts to “tone done” the hostility on its internal messaging board, Memegen. The forum is a longtime feature of the company’s office culture that allows Googlers to express themselves freely and even criticize executives and policies at Google. The Times claims that Google recently took down some of the key features of Memegen, including the ability to downvote posts. Some Google employees have criticized these moves, claiming that it will “censor their free expression,” the newspaper reports.

On October 7th, Hamas militants carried out an attack on Israel, kidnapping as many as 250 people, and killing around 1,200. Israel then launched a war on Hamas that has led to a massive civilian death toll. Since the start of the war, rights organizations estimate that Israel has killed as many as 30,000 Palestinians, including over 12,000 children. The war has also spurred a starvation crisis for millions of Gazans. Israeli forces recently fired on and killed seven workers from the aid group World Central Kitchen who were delivering food to the Gaza Strip. The United Nations estimates that as many as 224 humanitarian aid workers have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war. Israel has claimed the attack on WCK workers was a “grave mistake.”

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