Bloomberg blasts Google for bailing on Pentagon project

Billionaire businessman and former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, blasted tech giant Google on Wednesday for deciding not to renew a contract with the Pentagon amid employee backlash.

Bloomberg called the decision a defeat for “U.S. national security, patriotism and the cause of limiting civilian casualties in war.”

“One of the roles of senior management is to do the right thing, even if it provokes criticism,” Bloomberg wrote in an op-ed. “That’s especially critical when our collective security is at stake.”

As reported by FOX Business last week, the tech giant opted not to renew its controversial drone contract, known as Project Maven, after workers voiced concern about how the application could be weaponized by the U.S. military. Project Maven is an artificial intelligence program designed to use data captured by government drones to identify and track objects viewed on surveillance footage.

Bloomberg argued that the program’s software, however, was intended to help the military avoid accidentally striking civilians; a point he said, Google executives were fully aware of.

But after more than 3,000 of the tech giant’s employees signed a letter, released in April, addressed to company CEO Sundar Pichai, protesting involvement in a Pentagon pilot program, the tech giant pulled out.

“We believe that Google should not be in the business of war,” Google employees wrote. “Therefore we ask that Project Maven be cancelled, and that Google draft, publicize and enforce a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology.”

Bloomberg also took a shot at Apple for its refusal to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter.

Meanwhile, Google is in the running for another Pentagon contract for cloud services, which could span a decade and will likely be its largest yet – valued in the billions of dollars. The JEDI cloud contract aims to fully integrate all military services.

Google, Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle are viewed as the top contenders for the job.

Bloomberg praised e-commerce giant Amazon for its work helping the “U.S. defend itself,” citing it as a front-runner for the multi-billion dollar Defense Department contract.

“Helping to defend the U.S. is nothing to be ashamed of,” he said. “That shouldn’t be a controversial idea among our nation’s business leaders.”