After Buzzfeed published an email accidentally sent to its news division by a Facebook spokesperson who dismissed President-elect Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim registry––calling it a “straw man”––and advised the company’s PR to remain silent, Facebook was forced to clarify its position, saying that no one “has asked us to build a Muslim registry, and of course we would not do so.”
The incident prompted several other tech companies to break their silence.
In a statement issued yesterday, an Apple spokesperson said, “We think people should be treated the same no matter how they worship, what they look like, who they love. We haven’t been asked and we would oppose such an effort.”
A spokesperson for Google also weighed in: “In relation to the hypothetical of whether we would ever help build a ‘muslim registry’ – we haven’t been asked, of course we wouldn’t do this and we are glad – from all that we’ve read – that the proposal doesn’t seem to be on the table,” they said.
Uber issued a terse “No,” in response to the same questions, clarifying it would not help build or provide data for a Muslim registry.
These are the latest and most high-profile Silicon Valley players to go on record refusing to comply with the building of such a database. Tech companies found themselves facing considerable pressure to respond after The Intercept began asking similar questions about the subject earlier this month; its reporters approached nine tech companies and only received a response from Twitter, which said it would never participate in such a project.
Tech companies were increasingly scrutinized after IBM CEO Ginni Rometty offered both her congratulations and the services of her company in a personal letter to the president-elect, saying, “I know that you are committed to help America’s economy grow in ways that are good for all of its people.” Additionally, Rometty referred to the tax system as “outdated and punitive,” and said Trump’s proposed tax rate of 10 percent will “free up capital that companies of all sizes can reinvest in their U.S. operations, training and education programs for their employees, and research and development programs.” She then laid out several ways in which IBM could assist Trump with his national agenda. These services include:
- a “cognitive computing system” for the Department of Veteran Affairs
- artificial intelligence for infrastructure projects
- “data analytics, data center consolidation, and the use of cloud technologies” to cut government costs
The separate areas Rometty “identified as potential business opportunities between a Trump White House and IBM were all inoffensive and more or less mundane,” writes journalist Sam Biddle, “but showed a disturbing willingness to sell technology to a man with open interest in the ways in which technology can be abused: Mosque surveillance, a “virtual wall” with Mexico, shutting down portions of the internet on command, and so forth. Trump’s anti-civil liberty agenda, half-baked and vague as it is, would largely be an engineering project, one that would almost certainly rely on some help from the private sector.”
Throughout an often incendiary campaign, Trump repeatedly stated he would want a Muslim registry and admonished Muslims for not reporting more terror suspects. In fact, he elaborated on his plans for a Muslim registry during the second presidential debate,
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