Humber College Student Newspaper Columnist Claims Google’s Ties With Israel Raises “Ethical Questions” Based On Nonsensical Theories

April 25, 2024

On April 18, Anusha Siddiqui penned an opinion column for The Humber News, a student-produced newspaper at Humber College entitled: “Project Nimbus poses ethical questions,” ostensibly outlining the saga of the 28 Google employees who were fired in mid-April for cause, after staging a sit-in in the company’s offices, and, according to Google, “[taking] over office spaces, [defacing] our property, and physically [impeding] the work of other Googlers.”

Siddiqui argued that the project these employees were protesting – that is, “Project Nimbus” – raises “ethical questions.” She cited a 2021 anonymous letter published by The Guardian newspaper, in which supposed Google and Amazon employees expressed concern that their companies have offered artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud-based computing services to the Israeli government, and the Israeli military, for defence purposes. Siddiqui argued that this could “subject Palestinians to increased surveillance and illegal data collection” and that we must ask “where we draw a line between state security measures and the potential for human rights abuse.”

Of course, Siddiqui didn’t explain how she imagines this contract would actually lead to Palestinians being unduly targeted. Nor did she (or, ostensibly, these 28 Google employees, along with whomever penned the 2021 letter) seem to have any trouble with the fact that the contract signed by Israel is substantially similar to one signed by the US State Department, the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and numerous state and local police departments. Do they all believe that the US government is incapable of using AI and cloud services for unethical or questionable purposes, or that they are incapable of privacy or other abuses? Or is their ire focused exclusively on Israel?

Google also does business with the Government of El Salvador, one of the world’s worst governmental human rights abusers. There’s no need to imagine what they might use AI surveillance software for. Since March 2022, 78,000 people have been detained by the government there, and at least 235 have died in state custody. One wonders why these human rights defenders are not staging sit-ins in response to that contract?

Siddiqui went on to say that the “threat of potential misuse of the technology to further Israel’s expansionist agenda into Palestine” must be considered. That might be true if such an ‘agenda’ were to exist. Assuming that Siddiqui must mean Gaza, since ‘Palestine’ isn’t a recognized territory, it is worth noting that Israel pulled every single one of its citizens out of Gaza in 2005, taking with them every Jewish man, woman and child, in an effort to instill a lasting peace. It’s difficult to imagine a less ‘expansionist’ maneuver than that.

Of course, Siddiqui may just not have a very strong understanding of the history of the region. After all, she began her piece by stating that “the [Google] contract was signed the same week Israel attacked the Gaza Strip [in 2021], causing the deaths of about 250 people including more than 60 children.” She either forget to mention, or isn’t aware, that the violence in May of 2021 erupted after rocket attacks on Israeli civilians from Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), followed violent protest from Arabs in Jerusalem, and when Hamas ultimately launched rockets at Israeli population centres, one of which was a school. Israel did not ‘attack’ anyone – they responded to days of rocket fire and violent clashes in the streets.

Finally, Siddiqui lamented that a “lack of transparency in the works of the contract perpetuates a lack of accountability.” To whom, exactly, did she imagine Israel is accountable? They are a sovereign nation and an ally of Canada which has every right under international law to defend their borders from outside threats, using the same sort of intelligence gathering and analysis as every other state. No other nation on earth is expected to provide ‘transparency’ to foreign actors when it comes to their defence systems and strategies.

The sort of rhetoric displayed in Anusha Siddiqui’s column in The Humber News demands that the world’s sole Jewish State must be held to a different standard than all other nations, a morally indefensible approach.

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