SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – President-elect Donald Trump pledged to create a database of Muslims and deport millions of illegal immigrants. Now Silicon Valley workers are making a pledge of their own, to not make those promises a reality.
In less than 12 hours, more than 350 workers from tech giants including Google, Github, PayPal and Twitter, pledged that they will not help create that registry or participate in mass data collection that targets one’s race or religion.
“I think this is a human rights issue. And doing good at scale involves technology, and doing evil at scale involves technology,” software engineer Ka-Ping Yee told KPIX 5. “And so, I think those of us who choose to build and design technology have an ethical obligation to the many, many people whose lives are going to be touched by it.”
Yee is a software engineer at Wave and a former Google employee who helped write the pledge.
The group also promises to delete high-risk datasets and backups, and make sure the government follows legal protocols when requesting data.
“These are confusing times right now and I think a lot of us are feeling overwhelmed, and it’s easy to forget how much power we have as individuals,” Yee said.
That includes the power to speak out if data is being misused at your company. The workers also pledged that they would quit their jobs rather than get involved in questionable government purposes.
“It’s very unusual for technology workers to band together for anything, we’re notoriously difficult to get working in the same direction or unionize or do anything together,” said Valerie Aurora, founder of Frame Sight Consulting and former programmer at Intel and IBM.
“So I think it says a lot that so many people are willing to make such a tough and difficult pledge so publically,” Aurora went on to say.