Out of nine U.S. technology firms contacted by The Intercept earlier this month, only one — Twitter — would rule out participating in the creation of a national Muslim registry, something Donald Trump has floated as a possibility. On Monday, 22 advocacy groups sent a letter to the other eight companies, urging them to take a stand.
The letter is signed jointly by a coalition including major progressive and human rights organizations: CREDO, Muslim Advocates, Color of Change, Courage Campaign, Democracy for America, #AllOfUs, Amnesty International USA, Asian Law Caucus, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Media Justice, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Faithful America, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Mijente, MPower Change, Presente, Sum of Us, Ultraviolet. Below is the version of the letter sent to Google. Copies are also being sent to Microsoft, IBM, Facebook, Booz Allen Hamilton, SRA International, CGI, and Apple.
Sundar Pichai, CEO Google
1600 Amphitheatre Pkwy Mountain View, CA 94043
December 12, 2016
Dear Mr. Pichai,
Google is a company that prides itself on championing diversity, fairness and inclusion. In the spirit of that commitment, we, the undersigned advocacy organizations, write to express grave concern regarding your failure to unequivocally respond to inquiries from The Intercept regarding participation in the creation of a registry for Muslim immigrants.
In November, the online publication The Intercept requested a response to the following question:
“Would Google, if solicited by the Trump administration, sell any goods, services, information, or consulting of any kind to help facilitate the creation of a national Muslim registry, a project which has been floated tentatively by the president-elect’s transition team?”
While Twitter answered with an unequivocal no, Google failed to respond.
On behalf of 22 groups representing more than 35 million people, we are calling on you to do better.
The creation of a registry of Muslims in the United States is one of President-elect Trump’s most chilling proposals. Within just two weeks of the election, a member of the Trump transition team was photographed carrying a document entitled “Plan for First 365 Days,” which listed an updated registration program as one of his top priorities. The author of the document, Kris Kobach, was the architect of the National Security Entrance Exit Registration System, or NSEERS, a registration program targeting primarily Muslims on non-immigrant visas shortly after 9/11.
Under the guise of preserving national security, proponents of NSEERS claimed the program was necessary. However, not a single person on the registry was convicted of a terrorism-related crime. In reality, NSEERS was a program that profiled Muslims, subjected many of them to detention and deportation, and damaged their communities. In only the first year of the program, the government started deportation proceedings for more than 13,000 people.
This is not about politics. Government targeting of individuals based on religion and ethnicity violates the Constitution and our core values as a country. It also threatens millions of people.
We believe it is a great sign of corporate responsibility and common decency for corporations to ensure their resources are not used to support bigotry and discrimination. An important first step would be for Google to publicly refuse to help build a Muslim registry.
CREDO, Muslim Advocates, Color of Change, Courage Campaign, Democracy for America, #AllOfUs, Amnesty International, Asian Law Caucus, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Media Justice, Daily Kos, Demand Progress, Desis Rising Up and Moving, Faithful America, Fight for the Future, Free Press, Mijente, MPower Change, Presente, Sum of Us, Ultraviolet
Susan Molinari, Vice-President, Government Relations
Juniper Downs, Senior Counsel, Public Policy & Government Relations
As of Monday, Twitter is still the only company we reached that was willing to speak out against the possibility of registering Muslims in the United States — an enormous task that would surely require the help of technology contractors. Farhana Khera, executive director of the legal defense group Muslim Advocates, told The Intercept she believes these companies have an obligation to respond. “We now have a president-elect who has called for registering Muslims and the monitoring of an entire community of Americans based simply on their faith,” she said. “More than ever, we need these companies to be clear about what they will do to protect the vast amount of information they already collect on the public every millisecond of every day and to be clear that they will not participate in unconstitutional and undemocratic activities of the U.S. government.”
Google and Facebook indicated that they were working on a response, though we have not received one yet. The other companies have simply refused to answer.