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Google Employees Sit-In To Protest ‘Project Nimbus’ Contract With Israel

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Manhattan, NY — Google employees organized a sit-in at the tech company’s Chelsea office in New York City and occupied the office of Google Cloud’s CEO Thomas Kurian in California on April 16, 2024. The demonstration aimed to expose the internal unrest surrounding Google’s involvement in Project Nimbus, a cloud technology contract between the Israeli military, Google, and Amazon which has sparked allegations of complicity in human rights violations that surround Israel’s war on Gaza. After 10 hours of protest, Google ordered the police to arrest both groups of workers with a man stating the workers in NYC were placed on “administrative leave” before they were arrested.

Pro-Palestine Google Employees Arrested Protesting Against Project Nimbus from Unicorn Riot on Vimeo.

A Google employee that participated in the sit-in on the 10th floor of the Chelsea office spoke as a “Jewish Googler” and said that he participated in the sit-in “as a Jew, and never again means never again for anyone.” He stated “I sat in as a descendent of holocaust survivors and holocaust victims” and cited similarities between that genocide and the one happening in Gaza.

According to Google workers who formed the organization No Tech For Apartheid, company leadership have retaliated against those that speak-out as Project Nimbus “has become a major health and safety workplace conditions issue” adding that “multiple workers have quit citing the serious mental health consequences of working at a company that is using their labor for genocide.”

On March 4, 2024 a Google Cloud engineer disrupted a Google sponsored Israeli tech conference in New York City and said, “I refuse to build technology that powers genocide, apartheid, or surveillance. Project Nimbus puts Palestinian community members in danger.” The employee has since been fired, confirmed by Google according to CNBC. “Earlier this week, an employee disrupted a coworker who was giving a presentation — interfering with an official company-sponsored event,” Google spokesperson Bailey Tomson says in an emailed statement. “This behavior is not okay, regardless of the issue, and the employee was terminated for violating our policies.”

According to TIME, Google provides direct cloud AI services to the Israeli Ministry of Defense and recently signed a new $1 million contract for consulting services to the ministry which seeks to allow “multiple units” access to automation technologies. Google also gave the ministry a 15% discount on the original price of consulting fees as a result of the “Nimbus framework.”

Project Nimbus is a multifaceted cloud computing project initiated by the Israeli government and its military, involving a $1.2 billion contract with Google and Amazon. The project has four phases, starting with the establishment of cloud infrastructure and culminating in the implementation and optimization of cloud operations. It includes services such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which are provided to various Israeli government agencies​​. These include functions such as facial recognition technology, object tracking, and tracking of Palestinian people by 1 degree of separation.

The project has drawn sharp criticism from both Google employees and shareholders, alongside external advocacy groups, who are concerned that the technology provided could be used to further surveil Palestinians, collect data unlawfully, and facilitate the expansion of what they describe as illegal settlements. There have been allegations that the project may contribute to human rights abuses within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

According to workers, for almost 3 years, Amazon and Google workers have been organizing together to stop Project Nimbus. In response to the ongoing protests, Google has rejected and minimized worker concerns and created a toxic work environment by facilitating harassment and retaliating against workers for speaking out and have censored and discriminated against Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Googlers. Google worker testimonials speaking out against project nimbus can be seen here.

Sit-ins are currently happening in Sunnyvale, CA, Manhattan, NY, and Seattle, WA had a rally (not a sit-in) as of the writing of this article.

Watch the Twitch stream of one of the Google sit-ins here: notech4apartheid – Twitch

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