When Microsoft started working with the US Government on a military HoloLens the company faced some employee protest, given the mission was to “increased lethality, mobility and situational awareness” of soldiers in combat.
At the time Satya Nadella stood firm, saying “We made a principled decision that we’re not going to withhold technology from institutions that we have elected in democracies to protect the freedoms we enjoy.”
Fast forward two years now, and the company has finally relented to pressure from employees and share holders to examine the ethical basis of its government contracts.
“In response to shareholder requests, Microsoft Corp. will commission an independent, third-party assessment to identify, understand, assess, and address actual or potential adverse human rights impacts of the company’s products and services and business relationships with regard to law enforcement, immigration enforcement, and other government contracts. The assessment will include consultation with BIPOC communities, including immigrants, and other groups representing communities most impacted by Microsoft’s surveillance products, law enforcement and government contracts,” the company said in a statement.
Controversial government contracts including the HoloLens for the U.S. Army and Microsoft’s dealings with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Microsoft has already agreed to stop selling Facial Recognition software to government agencies.
The review will be conducted by the law firm Foley Hoag LLP and will be published next year.