Microsoft, under fire for ICE deal, says it's 'dismayed' by fami - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Microsoft, under fire for ICE deal, says it's 'dismayed' by family separations at border

Posted: Updated: Jun 19, 2018 11:42 AM
President Donald Trump meets with tech CEOs at the White House, including (L-R) Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. President Donald Trump meets with tech CEOs at the White House, including (L-R) Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.

Microsoft defended its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that's separating families at the U.S.-Mexican border, after a social media uproar over its ties.

"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," it said.

Microsoft didn't back down from its ties with ICE, whose contract is worth $19.14 million, according to Bloomberg. But the software company said it's "dismayed" by new actions by the Trump administration to jail immigrant parents who attempt to come to the U.S. without going through legal channels and put their children into detention facilities.

"As a company Microsoft has worked for over 20 years to combine technology with the rule of law to ensure that children who are refugees and immigrants can remain with their parents," it said.

In a January blog post, Microsoft touted a contract with ICE for its cloud-based software Azure, saying it would help ICE process data faster. The line that resonated with social media over the weekend was Microsoft saying it was "proud to support" the work of ICE in the post.

On Twitter, Microsoft drew outrage in posts that mention how CEO Satya Nadella was also an immigrant and asked Microsoft to take a stand on what's happening on the border with families being separated.

Microsoft employees chimed in. Larry Osterman, a Microsoft engineer, asked company President Brad Smith how working for ICE jibes with "our ethical stances. ... Not cool."

Tech Workers Coalition, an advocacy group, urged on Twitter for Microsoft employees not to "be complicit" in working with ICE.

Tech CEOs have chimed into the debate as well, decrying the family separations at the Mexico border that have captured national attention with photos and audio of children removed from their parents.

The CEOs of Airbnb, SmugMug and Twilio took to Twitter to speak out against the actions, part of the Trump administration's "zero-tolerance" immigration policy. Through the end of May, almost 2,000 children were separated from adults who said they were their parents or guardians, the Department of Homeland Security said last week.

Tech companies are finding themselves in the crosshairs over government contracts as employees increasingly vocalize their disagreement over the far-reaching consequences of their technologies.

The American Civil Liberties Union and civil rights groups recently demanded Amazon stop selling a facial recognition software tool, called Rekognition, to police and other government entities because they fear it could be used to unfairly target protesters, immigrants and any person just going about their daily business. And Google employees successfully pressured the company to not renew a contract with the Pentagon that some employees feared could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes.

Microsoft, after being contacted by media organizations about the statement of support for ICE, amended the blog post to take out the "proud" reference. It later updated it to the original statement,

On LinkedIn, Microsoft's Smith penned a Father's Day post in which he said the news of migrant children being taken from their families was "especially poignant."

"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," he wrote.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.