Microsoft’s work with ICE sparks backlash among tech community

Joe Curtis

19 Jun, 2018

Microsoft is under pressure from the tech community to terminate a contract it holds with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), in light of the department’s family separation policy.

A blog post published in January has resurfaced in the last couple of days, detailing how Microsoft “is proud to support” ICE’s IT innovation aims through its Azure Government platform.

A protest is taking place later today outside Microsoft’s DC office about the issue, and employees are being encouraged to speak out online.

Erica Baker, a senior engineering manager at Patreon, said on Twitter: “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.”

A spokesperson for Microsoft said it’s not working with ICE or US Customers and Border Protection “on any projects related to separating children from their families”, and doesn’t believe its Azure services are supporting such projects.

“As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border,” the spokesperson added.

“We urge the administration to change its policy and Congress to pass legislation ensuring children are no longer separated from their families.”

Its original blog post, written by Tom Keane, general manager at Microsoft, read: “ICE’s decision to accelerate IT modernization using Azure Government will help them innovate faster while reducing the burden of legacy IT.

“The agency is currently implementing transformative technologies for homeland security and public safety, and we’re proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.”

This section was reportedly removed from the blog by an employee earlier in response to the social media outburst, but was later re-inserted.

Picture: Bigstock