Amnesty International is calling on Google to stop cloud activities in Saudi Arabia

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Amnesty International works with 38 other human rights organizations and individuals to stop Google’s plans to set up an enterprise cloud company in Saudi Arabia amid concerns about the country’s human rights record.

The joint statement – signed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Media Matters for Democracy, among others – calls on Google to halt its plans in Saudi Arabia until the company conducts a public human rights assessment and clarifies what kind of government requests for data it is making. will not honor. More importantly, the letter writers argue, we are conducting that public investigation, in fact meeting with the people Google might inadvertently help hurt Saudi Arabia, and speaking to groups in the country who can better understand the issues there. .

The organizations cite several human rights violations that they believe should pause Google. Saudi Arabia has a documented history of attempts to spy on and violate the privacy of its citizens, including allegedly recruiting Twitter employees to spy on the company from within. It has also taken extreme and violent measures to silence dissent from people in positions to be criticized, most recently with the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Google initially announced it made Saudi Arabia one of its new “Cloud Regions” in 2020, with plans to build cloud infrastructure and partner with Saudi Aramco, the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, to resell cloud business services. The announcement sparked a response from activist groups such as Access Now and the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, especially since Google’s original blog post included a quote from Snap, the makers of Snapchat, who promoted the company, Protocol reports. The quote has since been removed.

According to Access Now, Google told affected groups that it had conducted an independent human rights assessment of its future cloud region and taken steps to address the issues it identified. But the company didn’t share what those issues were or what it was doing, and in part motivated the groups and individuals who call the company today.