Jan 31

FYI.


Thousands Of Google Employees Protest Trump Order; Top Tech Companies To Join Legal Action:

The US tech industry “resistance” to Trump is growing louder, and on Tuesday a group of top technology companies including Google, AirBnB and Netflix, plan to meet on Tuesday to discuss filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit challenging President Trump’s order restricting immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, said a spokesperson for a company organizing the gathering cited by Reuters. The meeting is being called together by GitHub, which makes software development tools.

For those unfamiliar, amicus, or “friend of the court”, briefs are filed by parties who are not litigants in a case but want to offer arguments or information to the judge. In other words, tech companies do not want to burn all bridges with the president, but they don’t want to lose their liberal clients either by being perceived as doing nothing, something which impacted Uber adversely over the weekend, leading to the #DeleteUber social media meme.

As Reuters adds, some of the companis invited to the meeting are Alphabet’s Google, Airbnb and Netflix.

As reported yesterday, the technology sector has become the clearest corporate opponent to the ban announced last week, however not due to a genuinely altruistic reason, but because Trump’s crackdown on H1-B visas threatens to cutoff a key labor supply. The industry depends on talent from around the world, and companies have been considering the best way to muster their resources, with efforts so far including statements condemning the move and financial support for organizations backing immigrants, such as the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to Michal Rosenn, general counsel for fundraising company Kickstarter, which will be involved in a filing, the “effort” – which at places like Bloomberg has already been dubbed the “resistance” – began on Monday. “We’re all very shaken. We’re shaken to see our neighbors and our families and our friends targeted in this way,” Rosenn said. “All of us are trying to think about what we can do.”

The discussions among the tech companies come after Amazon.com and Expedia filed declarations in court on Monday supporting a lawsuit filed by the Washington state attorney general. Amazon and Expedia said Trump’s order adversely impacts their business.

A separate lawsuit challenging Trump’s order as unconstitutional was filed on Monday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Additionally, Microsoft said it would aid the Washington AG lawsuit against the Trump executive order. If the tech companies decide to file an amicus brief as a group, it is unclear which case they would weigh in on.

Other companies invited to meet, according to Reuters, include Adobe Systems Inc, AdRoll, Automattic Inc, Box Inc, Cloudera Inc, Cloudflare Inc, Docusign, Dropbox, Etsy Inc, Evernote Corp, Glu Mobile Inc, Lithium, Medium, Mozilla, Pinterest, reddit, Salesforce.com Inc, SpaceX, Stripe, Twilio, Yelp Inc, and Zynga Inc, the source said.

Meanwhile, as Bloomberg adds, thousands of Google employees staged protests on Monday over Trump’s executive order on immigration. More than two thousand employees of Google parent Alphabet Inc. participated across several offices. At Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters, Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai and co-Founder Sergey Brin — both immigrants — spoke to the crowd, voicing concerns over Trump’s order that limits travel to the U.S. from seven Muslim-majority countries.

Many tech companies criticized the order, which was signed late Friday. Pichai sent a note to Google staff that day, saying 187 employees were potentially affected. Google asked those employees overseas to return immediately, pledging to help with the logistics and handle the costs.

Pichai told the assembled employees on Monday that the issue is “at the core of the founding of this company,” according to a Google employee there. “We spent two hours this morning talking about all of this. There is large work that remains to be done.”

Brin talked about his refugee past. Part of a Russian Jewish family, he emigrated to the U.S. because of anti-Semitism in that country.

Some of the Google employees affected by the immigration order also addressed the crowd. Soufi Esmaeilzadeh, a Google product manager, was one of them. An Iranian-born Canadian who has lived in the U.S. for 15 years, she was preparing to travel from Switzerland to the U.S. when news of the coming executive order first arrived.

As Bloomberg concludes, “the disruption comes at a delicate time for Google. The company, which had close ties to the Obama Administration, is determining its broader policy approach to Trump on a myriad of issues, including net neutrality, taxes and competition law.” Indeed, and since tech companies realize they are dealing with an unpredictable president, one wonders what their reaction will be if Trump actually targets the tech sector in his next crackdown, either on Twitter or elsewhere.

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