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16 Nov 2020

USA: Contracts suggest Google AI technology may be used for virtual border wall; company denies involvement

US government contracts reveal that in August 2020, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) accepted a proposal to use Google Cloud technology to facilitate the use of artificial intelligence deployed by the CBP Innovation Team (INVNT), whose projects include using technologies for a new “virtual” wall along the southern border that combines surveillance towers and drones. According to an article in The Intercept, the documents reveal the company to be involved in the implementation of the Trump administration’s border policy, evoking criticism for potentially violating the company's AI principles developed in response to employee objections over a 2018 partnership with the Pentagon. The article described how Google's new engagement with CBP was taking place through a third-party contracting company, ThunderCat Technology, and that Google's technology would be used in conjunction with work done by Anduril Industries, a controversial defense technology startup.

Responding to questions from employees about the allegations, Google Cloud's CEO indicated the company had received confirmation from CBP that its technology won’t be used for immigration enforcement at the border, including for a “virtual wall.” But some activists remain skeptical of CBP's statement, and argue Google should undertake a thorough investigation.


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Anduril Industries

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