Buried deep below the headlines about the bombs falling on Gaza was the announcement that Google and Amazon have been jointly awarded a massive contract with the Israeli military.
It stipulates an initial investment of over a billion euros for the construction of cloud storage in Israel and provision of cloud-based services to the Israeli army, the Israel Land Authority, and other government agencies.
With facial recognition technology, artificial intelligence and vast amounts of cloud storage, Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Israeli mainland may soon find themselves under a similar level of surveillance and restrictions as the Uyghurs in Western China, unable to pass checkpoints or drive on certain roads because a computer doesn’t like their face.
Cloud technology would also allow Israel to more completely surveil Palestinians in Gaza, or to more easily enforce segregated settlements. They have called this Project Nimbus.
Employees of Google and Amazon are rising up against this misuse of the technology they build. Last month, around 400 of them signed this open letter. By now there are over a thousand workers involved, using the hashtag #NoTechForApartheid (given that even Human Rights Watch has recognised Israel as an apartheid state).
They demand that Google and Amazon pull out of Project Nimbus, which is nothing more than an attempt to profit from apartheid, oppression, violence and war.
DiEM25 supports these employees and joins them in their demand for Google and Amazon to scrap this project.
Our official position on Israel-Palestine included a demand for an immediate embargo on technology transfers into Israel, well aware that these would increase the Israeli state’s ability to segregate and selectively deny rights.
Apart from that, it is against the interest of Israeli citizens that vast amounts of data on them should wind up in the hands of unaccountable behemoths like Google and Amazon, or that computers (mistakenly named “artificial intelligence”) should make decisions regarding their participation in public life. For more on DiEM25’s position on these issues, read our policy paper on Technological Sovereignty.
In short, we must stop Project Nimbus. Our full support to the brave workers at Google and Amazon who are saying #NoTechForApartheid!
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