SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Some Microsoft Corp. employees on Friday demanded that the company cancel a $480 million hardware contract for the supply of the AMERICAN Army, with 94 employees signed a petition calling on the company to stop developing all weapons technologies.”
A Microsoft store is pictured in New York City, New York, USA, 21 August 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Photo File
The organization of the work, described to Reuters by three Microsoft employees, provides the latest example in the last year of tech workers to protest cooperation with authorities in the area of emerging technologies.
Microsoft won a contract in November to supply the Army with at least 2,500 and prototypes of augmented reality headsets, digital display contextual information in the front of a user’s eyes. The government has said that the devices would be used on the battlefield and in training to improve soldiers ‘ lethality, mobility and situational awareness.”
In the petition to Microsoft executives, is to be found on Twitter, the employees said that they “did not sign up for the development of weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.” She called the company to develop “a public acceptable use policy” for its technology and an external review board for in the public to maintain.
Microsoft said in a statement that it is always value employee feedback. It is also referred to the October blog post by the chairman, Brad Smith, in which he said that the company remained committed to the military and would push for legislation to ensure responsible use of new technologies.
The U.S. Military did not immediately comment.
The shares of Microsoft fell 7 cents to $110.90 after hours on Friday.
Although many governments want to draw from the expertise of the largest AMERICAN technology companies, employee resistance has added a new challenge to already complicated relationships.
Employee pushback led Alphabet Inc last year to announce it would not renew a Pentagon contract to which the artificial intelligence technology is used to analyze drone footage.
In other cases, employee criticism has invited greater public scrutiny of deals such as $10 billion cloud computing contract not yet awarded and the various contracts with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
A Microsoft employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was unclear whether any of the lead plaintiffs work was part of the Army contract. Another said that a number of organizers working in the company’s cloud computing division, which competes with rivals Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services to get more work from the government.
Microsoft expected to reveal updates to HoloLens, the headset for businesses and governments, during an event at the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona on Sunday.
Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman