Amid international calls to cut off any cooperation with the Saudi regime for its bloody record of human rights, a partnership contract between Google and Saudi Aramco Development Co, a subsidiary of Aramco, has been officially announced to bring Google’s cloud services to Saudi Arabia, thus adding the Saudi Arabia to the global cloud platform network.
Google and Saudi Arabia
This alliance agreement between Google and Saudi Arabia can only be considered as a historical failure for the global company which risked its reputation at a time when everyone avoids investing in KSA due to its economic crisis, as well as the brutal crimes committed by its regime against opponents at home and abroad.
It is likely that the Google administration did not consider the consequences of this cooperation, as it was met with a wave of objection from the employees inside, who refused to cooperate with any institution whose products would harm the environment, or with regimes accused of human rights violations, like the Saudi regime.
Thomas Kurian – the chief executive officer of Google Cloud – justified the deal as “a useful move for the company, as it’s one of a handful of fields where Google is trying to chase Microsoft Corp. and Amazon.com Inc. in the cloud-computing market”, which means that the company puts its economic interests and financial gains over human rights and environmental stewardship.
On the technical level, this partnership means that the Saudi authorities – which have precedents in the world of espionage and hacking – will be granted full powers to access customer and user data, and access their personal information in an official and easy manner, and there will be no way then to protect users’ privacy, despite Google’s claims on banning artificial intelligence systems “whose purpose contradicts with the widely accepted principles of international law and human rights”, not its assertion of having “protection policies”.
We in “Together for Justice” express our deep concern over the use of Google’s cloud services by the Saudi authorities to monitor citizens and suppress freedom of opinion and expression, especially since KSA has countless precedents in the world of surveillance and penetration, which claimed the lives of opponents such as journalist Jamal Khashoggi , or resulted in the arrest of others like the activist Abdul Rahman Al-Sadhan, whose fate remains unknown until now.
We hold Google’s administration and those responsible for this partnership fully responsible for any damage or harm that may befall citizens inside Saudi Arabia, and we ward that any leakage of their personal information – protected by Google’s service policies- will expose the company to international legal liability.
Finally, we support Google’s employees and other honest people who are calling on the company to withdraw from the deal, lest its cooperation be a tool used by the regime to commit more crimes, and we remind the company not to gamble its reputation for a regime which may turn against any party for its own benefit.