Microsoft Corp scrubbed an online reference to its work for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement as the agency faces criticism for its role in separating families at the US-Mexican border.
On Jan 24, Tom Keane, a Microsoft executive, wrote a blog post for the US Air Force and ICE for the company's Azure cloud-computing service. Keane touted “sensitive unclassified data” and use tools such as facial recognition and identification. “The agency is currently implementing transformative technologies for homeland security and public safety, and we're proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud,” Keane wrote in the post.
As of Monday, the ICE was missing. The earlier, full version of the post was accessed via the Wayback Machine, a historical record of the websites maintained by the Internet Archive. On Monday, Bloomberg News asked Microsoft about the work, and the removal of that section of the blog. Soon after, it was back online.
“An employee is the blog after seeing commentary in social media. This was the error of the blog was reverted to the previous language, “a Microsoft spokesman said.
After restoring the blog language. “We urge the administration to change its policy and congress to pass legislation,” said Microsoft while not stressing its activities.
Over the weekend, several lawmakers and human rights organizations blasted the White House policy of separating migrant children from their parents at the border. Tech Workers Coalition, an advocacy group, wrote on Twitter that Microsoft should decide whether they will be complicit in the Administration's immigration policies. Some other tech executives weighed in, too.
Microsoft currently has US $ 19.14mil (RM76.61mil) in active contracts with ICE, according to Bloomberg Government data. Cloud-computing and software rivals, including Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc's Google and IBM, regularly compete for similar government work. Some of these other companies have been criticized for such activities – in particular Google and a contract with the Pentagon.
Brad Smith, president of Microsoft, also wrote on the ICE approach.
“This Father's Day provides an opportunity to recall one thing we should not take for granted – the opportunity to be with our children,” he wrote. “Given the news of migrant children, it's especially poignant this year.”
“When we keep children with their parents, we not only follow in the footsteps of one of the world's oldest and most important humanitarian traditions, we help build a stronger country, “Smith added.
This is the latest immigration issue to roil relations between the US government and the tech industry. Last year, the sector was pushed back against President Donald Trump's ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries and had been urging Congress to help “dreamers”, undocumented immigrants brought to the US as children.
On June 16, Google's head for artificial intelligence. Jeff Dean tweeted that the “policy is immoral and an affront to the values for which many of us stand.”
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos used Father's Day to remind Twitter followers of his dad's immigrant origins: “when he was 16 years old, and has been kicking ass ever since, “He wrote. – Bloomberg