Tech engineers are beginning to refuse recruitment drives by prominent Silicon Valley companies, citing ethical concerns. Silicon Valley firms compete fiercely to recruit and retain relatively scarce engineering talent, giving the concerns of engineers’ particular salience. As IEEE Spectrum reports, a software engineer at Dropbox cited her opposition to Amazon’s role in hosting another tech company’s service used by US government agents to target illegal immigrants for detention and deportation.
The movement against tech companies seems to have been gathering pace recently under the organisation of Tech Workers Coalition, a coalition of tech workers striving for an inclusive and equitable tech industry. Amazon, Facebook, Google and Microsoft have all faced growing internal unrest from employees who raise ethical concerns about how companies deploy their high-tech services and products. For instance, in the light of the recent family separation controversy at American borders, ties to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement have become particularly contentious.
These protests are being noticed; Google recently announced it would not renew a contract with the US Defence department following opposition from staff.
Is this a sign that some of the idolatry around Silicon Valley is fading? Will these protests have an impact on the industry and prompt a re-evaluation of ethics? Could this opposition be taken up by the wider public and if so how might this affect tech companies position in society?