As tech company executives prepare to meet with President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday in New York City, many of their employees are pledging to resist something Trump has backed: a database of all Muslims in the US.
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Hundreds of software engineers, chief technology officers, Web developers, and others from Google, Apple, Microsoft, and other companies signed a petition posted to the website neveragain.tech, in which they refused to lend their expertise to such a project.
"We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration's proposed data collection policies," the petition reads. "We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable."
In November 2015, Trump was asked if "we might need to register Muslims in some type of database, or note their religion on their ID." He responded that "We're going to have to look at a lot of things very closely."
Shortly thereafter, Trump was asked on a rope line in Iowa whether he supported a database for Muslims. "I would certainly implement that. Absolutely," Trump told NBC's Vaughn Hillyard. "There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases." When asked later for clarification, and how that plan differed from what the Germans did to the Jews during World War II, Trump largely ignored Hillyard's question, saying only "you tell me."
— Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) November 20, 2015
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A month later, Trump called "for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on." When asked about that during the second debate in October, Trump said "The Muslim ban is something that in some form has morphed into a extreme vetting from certain areas of the world," but the Muslim ban press release remains on his campaign website.
The signers of the petition, meanwhile, describe themselves as employees "whose jobs include managing or processing data about people," and suggested a comparison between Trump's plan to register Muslims and the Holocaust, Japanese internment, and genocide in Rwanda and Turkey. Many tech companies were complicit in those atrocities, according to the petition, which cited IBM's role in the Holocaust.
Signers of the Never Again petition wrote that they would resign their jobs rather than be forced to work on a database. If "our organizations force us to engage in such misuse, we will resign from our positions rather than comply," they wrote.
Tech companies themselves have mostly remained silent on the issue of building a Muslim registry. Only Twitter has explicitly said it will not help, according to The Intercept.
Today, however, the Trump transition team announced that Uber's Travis Kalanick and Elon Musk have joined the President's Strategic and Policy Forum. The 16-member group—which also includes IBM CEO Ginni Rommety and GM CEO Mary Barra—"will be called upon to meet with the President frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the President implements his economic agenda," the Trump team said.