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Microsoft supports Israeli settler-colonialism, US imperialism, US policing, and the US prison-industrial complex. Microsoft bears high responsibility for driving up housing, rental, and living costs in Cambridge and surrounding parts of the Boston area, a phenomenon which is leaving long-time residents increasingly unable to afford to remain in their communities.

Profiting from Israeli militarism and settler-colonialism

Microsoft spins endless propaganda about Israel as "start-up nation" and "hub of innovation," parroting Israeli state efforts to "brand Israel" positively, in order to whitewash the realities of Israel's genocidal violence against Palestinians and theft of Palestinian land and resources. In recent years, Microsoft has acquired Israeli 'cybersecurity' companies such as Aorato (in 2014 for $200 million), Adallom (in 2015 for $320 million), Hexadite (in 2017 for $100 million), and CyberX (in 2020 for $165 million), all companies which produce products based on IDF technologies.

Profiting from incarceration, war, and policing

According to US government spending reports, Microsoft has received $2.87 billion to date through contracts with the US Department of Defense. Moreover, the Pentagon recently awarded Microsoft a $10 billion contract to build its data infrastructure over the coming years.

As Michael Kwet reports, Microsoft also services police departments and prisons around the world. Microsoft develops software for managing information about incarcerated people, including products geared toward the management of data on 'youth offenders.' Microsoft provided similar products to police forces in New York, Washington D.C., Seattle, and Atlanta, as well as in Brazil and Singapore.

Ideologically, Microsoft promotes "community-based policing" and other forms of counterinsurgency and urban warfare masked with liberal buzzwords, through its sponsorship of conferences and non-profit groups. In 2021, for example, Microsoft hosted a panel on "How technology can rebuild bridges between communities and law enforcement." The panel featured former Boston Police Commissioner William Gross. As another example, Microsoft co-hosted the "Police Innovation Conference" in 2015. Cambridge Police Commissioner Robert C. Haas stated about the conference, "The Cambridge Police Department is once again proud to host the Police Innovation Conference along with WiredBlue and Microsoft ... I'm confident that participating law enforcement partners will leave the City of Cambridge with a greater knowledge and understanding of the latest innovative technologies that will influence the future of policing."

Support for US tracking, detention, and deportation of migrants

Microsoft provides wide-scale support to the US government's regime of tracking, detention, and deportation of Black and Brown migrants, providing a wide array of Microsoft technologies and services to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (ICE and CBP's parent agency). According to US government spending reports, Microsoft has received $509.59 million to date through contracts with the Department of Homeland Security. Microsoft's business with US DHS include the provision of data management technologies to ICE.

In addition to its direct contracts with DHS, Microsoft frequently does business with DHS, ICE, and CBP through third party vendors, presumably in an attempt to reduce public scrutiny of Microsoft's ties to these agencies. As reported by Business Insider in 2021, "Microsoft used third parties to sell its cloud services and software more than 200 times to immigration agencies from 2002 to 2021, in addition to selling to ICE and CBP directly more than 100 times." A (far from exhaustive) list of recent Microsoft sales to ICE, CBP, and DHS through third party vendors includes:

Complicity in displacement/gentrification

Microsoft maintains sizable offices in Cambridge MA. These offices are, in the company's words, "Positioned in Kendall Square—the heart of Cambridge’s “Innovation Sector”—[where] we’re surrounded by academics, tech leaders, researchers, builders, and thinkers who are poised to discover new and empowering ways to use technology." By gobbling up Cambridge real estate and moving its generally wealthier workforce into the city and surrounding area, Microsoft (along with other university, biomedical, and tech giants like it) bears high responsibility for driving up housing, rental, and general living costs in Cambridge and surrounding areas (see figure below), which leaves long-time area residents increasingly unable to afford remain in the communities they have called home for years if not decades.

Graph showing the change in housing and rent prices in Cambridge and Boston between 1997 and 2017. The average cost of a home has risen from $164,160 to $1,049,760 in Cambridge over that time, and average rent in Cambridge has skyrocketed from $726 to $3,222 per month.

(Image source: here)

1 Memorial Dr, Cambridge, MA 02142

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