Microsoft Slammed For ICE Contract, Amid Child Separations | Tech News
The public outcry over the Trump administration’s policy of separating children from their parents at the US border is spilling over to Microsoft, which has a contract with federal immigration authorities.
Back in January, Microsoft announced that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was using the company’s Azure cloud service “for facial recognition and identification” purposes. “We’re proud to support this work,” the tech giant said at the time.
Now Microsoft is getting slammed for that partnership; the same federal agency has been helping US authorities carry out the separations of families detained at the US-Mexico border. On social media, critics of Microsoft have been calling on company employees to demand that their employer drop the government contract.
Friends who work for @Microsoft,
FIGHT THIS. Make the biggest noise imaginable about it.
Don’t fall for the “all companies take government contracts” spin. Your company has THIS contract and is *proud* of it.
Resources are available to help you fight. I believe in you.?? https://t.co/P19aEWR45n
— EricaJoy (@EricaJoy) June 18, 2018
It didn’t help that Microsoft flopped its initial response to the controversy. On Monday morning, the company tried to remove mention of its work with the immigration agency, which was noticed by journalists. (Microsoft told Bloomberg that the deletion was a “mistake.”)
Later in the day, the company released a formal statement, which called on the Trump administration to stop the family separations.
“We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families,” the company said.
Although Microsoft said it was “dismayed” by the forcible separations, the company has yet to provide details about its contract with US immigration authorities, like how the facial recognition tech is exactly being used.
In its statement, Microsoft merely said the partnerships had nothing to do with separating children from their parents. “And contrary to some speculation, we are not aware of Azure or Azure services being used for this purpose,” it said.
Still, the contract poses a PR headache for the company, when its CEO Satya Nadella has previously spoken out against the Trump’s administration’s stricter policies on immigration. “We also believe in broader immigration opportunities, like the protections for talented and law-abiding young people under the Deferred Access for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Program, often called ‘Dreamers,'” he wrote back in Jan. 2017.