Microsoft Slammed For ICE Contract, Amid Child Separations


While Microsoft issued a statement Monday that said it does not agree with policy that separates families at the U.S. -Mexico border and its contract is unelated, a company spokesperson declined to state whether facial recognition software was among tools being used by ICE as part of its Azure Government contract, Gizmodo reported.

Microsoft staff wrote to CEO Satya Nadella calling on the firm to cancel its $19.4 million contract with the US's Immigration, Customs and Enforcement agency.

"Like many of you, I am appalled at the abhorrent policy of separating immigrant children from their families at the southern border of the U.S. As both a parent and an immigrant, this issue touches me personally", he added.

"As the people who build the technologies that Microsoft profits from, we refuse to be complicit", the employees said in the letter, obtained by The Seattle Times. Microsoft's involvement comes from the company's Azure Government cloud computing platform: a segregated set of government-only data centers and cloud services operated exclusively by U.S. citizens, with certifications and approval to fulfill certain government needs.

Later in the day, Microsft released a formal statement, which calls on the Trump administration to stop the family separations.

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In the blog post, Microsoft says its technology can help the agency, which is responsible for border control, customs, trade and immigration, "accelerate facial recognition and identification".

His thoughts are being echoed by the company CEO Satya Nadella, who has written a post on LinkedIn. "We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families".

While keeping to the rather neutral tones of such canned statements, Microsoft made it clear that it's not in favour of separating immigrants from their children at USA borders. Our current cloud engagement with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is supporting legacy mail, calendar, messaging and document management workloads. Will Trump change his policy?

Microsoft gained the spotlight after an Azure blogpost by Microsoft General Manager Tom Keane dating back to January 24, 2018, resurfaced on the social media.

Microsoft certainly seems to have been caught off-guard with this development, as the company even temporarily pulled the section pertaining to ICE from its January blog post, before blaming the change on a mistake by an employee and reinstating it. We appreciate, as few companies can, that a healthy immigration policy is important from a humanitarian perspective and serves as a vital engine of the nation's economic growth. That means standing with every immigrant who works at Microsoft and standing for change in the inhumane treatment of children at the USA border today.