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Several Google employees have accused the tech giant of censoring them for protesting against a controversial $1.2 billion contract signed with Israel last year.
‘Project Nimbus‘ provides Tel Aviv with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning tools, which many fear will worsen human rights abuses in occupied Palestine.
The group of over 20 employees argue that the company unfairly enforces content moderation rules to protect speech supporting Israel, while at the same time flagging and even punishing those who express support for Palestine.
“Project Nimbus makes me feel like I am making my living off my family’s oppression,” an unnamed Palestinian working for Google told the New York Times (NYT).
Other employees provided examples of being punished or reprimanded for “antisemitism” after proclaiming their support for the Palestinian cause, or even for self-identifying as a “Palestinian-American.”
The workers say they were forced to stop discussing topics that paint Israel in a bad light in the company’s internal forums, including Israel’s rampant human rights offenses against Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, or the country’s designation as an apartheid state by various human rights groups.
Expressing support for Palestine often ended led to formal warnings and poor performance reviews, the workers added.
Last month, The Intercept revealed for the first time several aspects about Project Nimbus, which is jointly developed by Google and Amazon.
According to their investigation, the companies are providing Tel Aviv with machine-learning and AI tools capable of “facial detection, automated image categorization, object tracking, and even sentiment analysis that claims to assess the emotional content of pictures, speech, and writing.”
The machine-learning capabilities provided to Israel by the US tech giants could easily augment the capabilities of their surveillance state.
Earlier this year, Israeli media revealed that occupation troops are required to capture and enter the pictures and details of at least 50 Palestinians during their shift into the so-called ‘Blue Wolf’ facial recognition system.
‘Blue Wolf’ works as a smartphone application and is described as the occupation army’s secret “Facebook for Palestinians.”
The app captures photos of Palestinians’ faces and matches them to an extensive database of images, flashing in different colors to alert soldiers if a person is to be detained, arrested, or left alone.
Over the past year, occupation forces have also been installing face-scanning cameras in various points across the West Bank.