Google drops out of bidding for massive Pentagon cloud contract

Doris Richards
October 10, 2018

Google is dropping out of the bidding for a huge Pentagon cloud computing contract that could be worth up to $10 billion, saying the deal would be inconsistent with its principles.

According to TechCrunch, Google chose not to bid on the contract because the project "may not align with the company's principles for how artificial intelligence should be used". Bidding on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) began approximately two months ago, currently, the lead contender to receive the contract is Amazon who previously worked for the Central Intelligence Agency setting up their cloud but a number of other companies are involved in the bidding including Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM.

The software company said Tuesday that it will earn the certification required to host the government's most sensitive and classified information - a distinction previously held only by Amazon Web Services - by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

The expanded Azure Government Secret cloud service will make Microsoft "a strong option for the JEDI contract", said Julia White, corporate vice president of Microsoft Azure, adding that the company is capable of meeting the highest classification requirement for handling "top secret USA classified data". "We do believe that the uses of our cloud and AI will prove to be overwhelmingly positive for the world, and we also recognize that we can not control all downstream uses of our technology", Greene wrote. Though Maven itself was of limited value to the company, senior Google executives allegedly viewed it as a gateway to lucrative defence contracts involving projects like as surveillance systems that could monitor entire cities.

The department also said it expects "to maintain contracts with numerous cloud providers to access specialized capabilities not available under the JEDI Cloud contract". Whichever company wins could ultimately have little control over how the military uses its technology.

After details of Google's involvement with Project Maven came to light, thousands of Google employees signed a petition asking for Google to bow out of the project, and dozens more resigned in protest. Earlier this year, Defence One reported that Google co-founder Sergey Brin and CEO Sundar Pichai were instrumental in sparking the Pentagon's interest in cloud computing, though the company had only quietly pursued a contract amid fears of a strong reaction from rank and file staffers. "You may see a place to recharge your Fitbit but nothing to indicate the sort of patriotic identity that the rest of the defense contractors have". IBM, Microsoft and Oracle have sharply criticized that approach and even mounted lawsuits seeking to overturn it, arguing that the project is unfairly tilted in Amazon's favor.

Amazon and Microsoft are the industry's cloud market leaders.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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