Microsoft takes a stand against ICE separating parents from children – CNET

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Microsoft takes a stand against ICE separating parents from children

The company said it was “proud” to supply technology to Immigration and Customs Enforcement — which sparked anger online.


Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Trump administration’s moves to separate children from their parents at the US border is a hot-button topic — hot enough that Microsoft got burned. 

In January, the company wrote that it was “proud” to supply its Azure cloud services to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) — including the ability to use “deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification.”

Needless to say, some weren’t too happy to hear that:

Then, Bloomberg caught Microsoft attempting to whitewash the blog post by removing the references to the US immigration agency, which could have made people even angrier. (They’ve since been restored.)

But Microsoft is now taking a stand. In a statement to reporters, the company says it’s officially “dismayed” by the actions of ICE, and is asking the government to change its policy. 

Here’s the company’s full statement, as provided to CNET:

As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border. Family unification has been a fundamental tenant of American policy and law since the end of World War II. 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. We need to continue to build on this noble tradition rather than change course now. We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families.

Microsoft didn’t immediately comment about whether it’s still proud to supply ICE with its services.

As Bloomberg points out, Microsoft has spoken out against the Trump administration’s treatment of immigrants in the past, with president and chief legal officer Brad Smith calling a planned repeal of the Dreamers program “a step backwards for our entire nation.”

Smith also published a story yesterday on his LinkedIn page in support of keeping families together, and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has called on the tech industry to help prevent a dystopian future like “1984”.

Other tech companies have also recently been under fire for their government contracts. Google recently promised it wouldn’t build AI weaponry after the company’s own employees protested. And the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is delivering a petition to Amazon today which asks it to stop providing facial recognition technology to law enforcement.

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