Google is a multinational corporation that supports Israeli ethnic cleansing, the US military, US police, and a wide array of US federal law enforcement agencies, all while contributing to the mass displacement of Black and Brown residents from Cambridge MA and surrounding communities ('gentrification').
Google maintains offices in occupied Palestine, physically contributing to Israel's occupation and colonization of Palestinian land. Moreover, Google maintains numerous partnerships with Israel, about which Google parrots Zionist propaganda lauding Israel's merits. Google capitalizes upon Israel's military-industrial complex, which produces an elite workforce for the company. Google has also acquired several companies that emerged from the Israeli army's notorious counterinsurgency and surveillance unit, Unit 8200, including Waze (for which Google paid over $1 billion). In May 2021, Google along with Amazon signed a seven-year contract with the Israeli military and government to build six large data centers for Israel and to provide Israel with cloud services and infrastructure more broadly. According to Google and Amazon employees who signed a letter objecting to the seven-year contract, Israel will use the information technology infrastructure Google provides it to through the project to further surveil and collect data on Palestinians, as well as to identify Palestinian homes for demolition.
Google's leadership has a long record of supporting Israeli colonization and ethnic cleansing. Former Google/Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt has been a strong supporter of Israel and has invested millions of dollars in a "cybersecurity" initiative headed by graduates of Israel's Unit 8200, a notorious training ground for the future leaders of Israel's cyberwarfare efforts. Google's co-founder Sergey Brin has also supported Israel and promulgated racist, Zionist rhetoric. In a 2008 interview with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Brin claimed that Israel is "just incredible" and that he "was generally familiar with the history of Israel," but was awestruck upon "really seeing ... what's been really accomplished ... out of nothing, just dirt." In other words, for Brin, Palestine prior to Zionist colonization was "just dirt," and European settlers "made the desert bloom."
Google equips the US military with cloud computing services, in spite of ongoing protests for Google's own employees. Google goes out of its way to ensure that the US military has full access to all the technology Google has to offer. As Yarden Katz reports, "Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, was the founding chair of the Defense Innovation Board, a group of scientists, corporate elites, and government officials that works to ensure the Pentagon has the latest technologies of oppression – technologies that are often co-developed with Israel."
Alongside Google's broad support for US military's violence and repression worldwide, Google also supports the federal agencies responsible for broadscale violence and repression against Black and Brown, working class communities within the US. As reported in the Verge, Google employees have expressed outrage about "Google’s ongoing Cloud contract with the Clarkstown Police Department in New York, a department which was sued for allegedly conducting illegal surveillance on Black Lives Matter protestors in 2015," and Google's "indirect support of a sheriff’s department in Arizona which tracks migrants who cross the US-Mexico border." Critics of these contracts, including Google's own employees, have highlighted the hypocrisy of Google maintaining these business ties with law enforcement while simultaneously trying to brand itself as supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Google also does business with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), supporting ICE and CBP's joint regime of tracking, detention, and deportation of Black and Brown migrants. In an October 2021 report for Business Insider, Caroline Haskins explains:
Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have repeatedly used a common tactic to sidestep public scrutiny and work with US immigration agencies, despite employee backlash and some company policies against doing such work. This tactic, in which the companies use third parties or act as subcontractors to sell their technology, has helped these tech giants quietly secure dozens of cloud contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection, Insider has found ... From 2015 to 2021, Amazon used third parties to sell its cloud services at least 16 times to ICE and CBP. Google used third parties to sell various cloud and professional tools at least 28 times to these agencies.
Google's support for the tracking, detention and deportations of Black and Brown migrants further extends to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which is the parent agency containing ICE and CBP. In February 2022, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the creation of the Cyber Safety Review Board (CSRB). As reported by Cynthia Brumfield, CSRB will be composed of "15 top cybersecurity leaders from the federal government and the private sector, including Robert Silvers, DHS undersecretary for policy, who will serve as chair, and Heather Adkins, Google’s senior director for security engineering, who will serve as deputy chair." Brumfield elaborates that "This public-private initiative is charged with reviewing and assessing significant cybersecurity incidents across government and the private sector," to "provide a unique forum for collaboration between government and private sector leaders who will deliver strategic recommendations to the President and the Secretary of Homeland Security.”
Google is similarly complicit in agencies of the US security state responsible for surveilling the US public and criminalizing dissent. Google supported the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), and other intelligence agencies to create "Intellipedia, a network aimed at helping [Intelligence] agents share intelligence" by supplying "servers for storing and searching internal documents" that the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies used "to create their own mini-Googles on intranets made up entirely of government data," allowing for streamlined and efficient information sharing across these and other agencies. Google also supports the CIA indirectly, through its investments Recorded Future, a tech firm based in Cambridge MA backed by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (see entry on Recorded Future). Google is also complicit in the US National Security Agency's "Prism" program. As Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill reported in the Guardian in 2013:
The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian. The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called Prism, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says. The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.
Google's recently-expanded Cambridge office occupies a staggering 300,000 square feet of real estate in the neighborhood of Kendall Square. By gobbling up Cambridge real estate and attracting an on average whiter and wealthier workforce into the city and surrounding areas, Google (along with other university, biomedical, and tech giants) is responsible for rapidly rising housing, rental, and general living costs in Cambridge and in the Boston area more broadly, which are leaving long-time residents increasingly unable to afford remain in the communities they have called home for years if not decades (see figure below). Some in the Cambridge community have opposed Google's invasion into the city. As this article from 2012 reports, "rising neighborhood discontent forced a concession from the builders for another major business in Cambridge: Internet search giant Google Inc. Last winter, Boston Properties agreed to build a park near Google's Kendall Square offices after an outcry by residents over its proposal to shrink an existing public rooftop garden to accommodate a walkway connecting Google offices."
(Image source: here)