Microsoft came under fire on social media for its contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that's separating families at the U.S.-Mexican border.
The company now says 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 take their children away 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 statement.
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."
Agreed. @BradSmi, how on earth does this align with our ethical stances w.r.t. family separation and our public stance on using AI for only ethical purposes. This seems completely antithetical to our public stances. Not Cool.— Larry Osterman (@osterman) June 18, 2018
As a former @Microsoft employee, I’m appalled to see this news. The projects we take on matters, they have real world implications. We can’t hide behind code without thinking about the ethical implications of our work. Do better. https://t.co/PuXQX5oBqS— Niles Guo (@powerguo) June 18, 2018
Tech Workers Coalition, an advocacy group, urged on Twitter for Microsoft employees not to "be complicit," in working with ICE.
If you are a worker building these tools or others at Microsoft, decide now that you will not be complicit. Then, talk to a trusted coworker. Begin building power. If you don't feel like you know how to begin those conversations, our DMs are open. https://t.co/I6dScfxqlb— Tech Workers Coalition (@techworkersco) June 18, 2018
Tech companies are finding themselves in the cross hairs 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 hat 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.
Meanwhile, Microsoft, after being contacted by media organizations about the statement of support for ICE, the blog post was amended to take out the "proud" reference, but it's been since updated to the original statement,
Microsoft didn't back down from its support of ICE, but while noting that it didn't support the new "zero tolerance" immigration policy, did urge Congress "to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families," the company said in a statement.
According to Bloomberg, Microsoft's contract with ICE is worth $19.14 million.
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.
California officials quickly determined an arsonist started last month's huge wildfire southeast of Los Angeles, and that two weeks earlier sparks from a vehicle produced a deadly wildfire in the far northern part of the state.
A downtown San Diego high-rise condo complex was evacuated early Sunday morning due to a water pipe bursting.
The showdown begins Monday between the Trump administration and a handful of states opposed to relaxing fuel economy standards .
A 37-year-old man riding a bicycle was hit by a vehicle, seriously injured, and the driver sped off, officials said Sunday.
An armed man robbed an eatery in Rancho Bernardo, pistol whipped an employee there, but was unable to keep the money he had taken when he ran into a pillar during his escape, dropping the money but not his gun, a police officer said Sunday.
A 64-year-old man collapsed and died on a hiking trail in the Cleveland National Forest near Alpine, the county Sheriff's Department said Sunday.
Cooler Sunday into Monday as a trough transits across the West Coast. Temperatures warm again through mid-week.
San Diegans and tourists alike headed to the coast to take in all that the first day of fall has to offer.