Last month the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency hosted an information conference for technology companies interested in helping the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ICE build a tool to help the agency to assist in implementing the president’s controversial “extreme vetting” program for immigrants to the United States.
Among the companies attending the session were International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM), Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp. (NYSE: BAH), Red Hat Inc. (NYSE: RHT), LexisNexis, SAS and Deloitte, according to a report at The Intercept. ICE wants a privately developed software program with the capability to “determine and evaluate an applicant’s probability of becoming a positively contributing member of society, as well as their ability to contribute to national interests” and with the ability to predict “whether an applicant intends to commit criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States.”
Corporate watchdog group SumOfUs in January initiated a petition urging Silicon Valley companies not to cooperate with the new Trump administration following the issuance of the president’s first travel ban. To date that petition has received more than 91,000 signatures.
SumOfUs campaign manager Nicole Carty released a statement Tuesday morning regarding The Intercept’s report, implicitly urging people to sign the non-cooperation petition. Here is Carty’s full statement:
IBM’s enthusiasm in building an advanced computer system to operationalize Trump’s ‘extreme vetting’ policy is a sick display of moral bankruptcy and corporate greed.
IBM is no stranger to aiding oppressive regimes—let us not forget the company’s role in helping Nazi Germany create systems that helped in the atrocities of the Holocaust. The irony it seems, is lost on IBM’s executives, as the company quite literally signs up to partner with Trump to make the civil rights violations of his wildly racist ‘extreme vetting’ policy a reality.
Trump is not a normal president and this this is not a business as usual moment. By seeking to build technology systems that bring Trump’s ugly ‘extreme vetting’ agenda to life, IBM is complicit in endangering our communities and our democracy. We urge IBM to pledge to not partner with the Trump administration and help execute his troubling ‘extreme vetting’ agenda. IBM must to learn from its ugly past and take a side.
In May, IBM withdrew its support for New York Blood Center (NYBC) blood drives in response to a petition from Care2 that gathered 164,000 signatures protesting the abandonment of 66 research chimpanzees that NYBC moved to islands off the coasts of Liberia — where the research work is conducted — and Ivory Coast. NYBC cut off funding for long-term care of the chimps in 2015 “leaving them to die of starvation and thirst.” The last experiments were conducted 12 years ago.