Tensions proceed to grow over a GitHub contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as worker activists pressure the company to reduce links with the agency.
Yesterday, in a standing-room-only meeting, executives answered questions from workers on the controversial contract. CEO Nat Friedman fielded questions from workers and attempted to clarify why the company would renew a contract of $200,000 with the immigration agency.
“This is a crucial matter not simply because we discover this situation of US immigration coverage so odious, offensive, abhorrent, merciless, evil, such a significant subject,” Friedman stated, in keeping with the transcript. “I personally really feel that. I do know many different Hubbers share that thought.”
Through the meeting, workers pressed executives about how the company would work with non-democratic countries, together with China. Friedman stated he didn’t have a particular answer; however, he noted that open-source software was available in countries like Iran.
“China’s another one, a non-democratic country, and I do assume we’ll need to evolve our positions there,” Friedman informed workers. “We’ve seen some US sanctions went into effect towards Chinese AI companies around facial recognition just last night. So we’re not the only who trying to make sure there are human rights in all these countries.”
He added that “on the net,” the company’s approach “is that we need to lean towards more access to GitHub for every developer, even in countries that aren’t democratic, even in teams that are doing things that we would disagree with.”
Executives at GitHub made clear that the decision to maintain the ICE contract was made after extensive consultation with Microsoft’s top executives, particularly naming CEO Satya Nadella, president Brad Smith, and cloud VP Scott Guthrie. However, Friedman denied that the company pressured GitHub to maintain the contract, saying as a substitute that it was essential for the two leadership teams to be aligned on contracting policy.