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Nine Google workers get arrested after sit-in protest over $1.2B cloud deal with Israel

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Nine Google employees were arrested at the company's offices in California and New York this week after staging an hours-long sit-in protest over Google's contract to provide cloud services to Israel. The workers have voiced strong opposition to Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract between Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services to provide cloud computing infrastructure to various Israeli government ministries.

According to The Verge, the sit-in protests took place Tuesday at Google offices in California and New York City. In California, five employees occupied the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian to voice their concerns about Project Nimbus.

In New York, four employees demonstrated in the 10th floor common area of Google's Chelsea office. After refusing police orders to leave, protesters in both locations were arrested after occupying the offices for about eight hours.

Employees have argued that Google's technology could potentially empower harmful applications such as mass surveillance of Palestinians or enable military operations in the region. More than 600 Google employees previously signed an open letter urging the company's leadership to reconsider its involvement.

Google claims that Project Nimbus only covers non-sensitive government workloads. Anna Kowalczyk, external communications manager for Google Cloud, said;

We have been very clear that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial cloud by Israeli government ministries, who agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy. This work is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services

On the other hand, recent reports indicate the Israeli military is also using Google's cloud services. A leaked contract seen by TIME showed the defense ministry received consulting help and discounts from Google in relation to the deal.

Google's Anna Kowalczyk also stated that the protests were "part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google."

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