A group of nearly 60 employees at major tech companies have signed a pledge refusing to help build a Muslim registry. The pledge states that signatories will advocate within their companies to minimize collection and retention of data that could enable ethnic or religious targeting under the Trump administration, to fight any unethical or illegal misuse of data, and to resign from their positions rather than comply.
The group describes themselves as "engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people."
Silicon Valley tech companies themselves have, for the most part, stayed silent or declined to comment when asked about similar commitments to upholding civil rights. The pledge, which is posted at neveragain.tech, comes a day before top executives at major tech companies plan to attend a summit hosted at Trump Tower in Manhattan. Recode reported that Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Google CEO Larry Page, Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and perhaps Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos accepted an invitation to the summit from President-elect Donald Trump.
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Ka-Ping Yee, a software engineer at Wave, formerly of Google, and Leigh Honeywell, a security engineering manager at Slack, helped organize the Never Again pledge. Yee told BuzzFeed News that he didn't know why tech companies have not made similar commitments. "What's important to me is that individuals who care about the ethical use of technology can step forward, show how many of us there are, and say that there are lines we will not cross," said Yee.
Last month, after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it was "pretty crazy" to think that fake news could have affected the presidential election, a group of renegade Facebook employees formed an unofficial task force to investigate Facebook's role in promoting propaganda.
"Ultimately, it's individuals who make decisions and do the work, and can take personal responsibility for their choices; if enough individuals refuse to participate, unethical projects can't proceed," Yee added.