Tensions have been high since the Presidential Election 2016 in which Donald Trump won the election over Hillary Clinton. In its wake, rumors have begun circulating that data computing companies such as Microsoft might be called upon to assist in creating a ‘Muslim Registry’ based on religious beliefs that Trump spoke about during his campaign.
Today, Buzzfeed reports that Microsoft spokesperson confirmed that consumers have no reason to worry about their personal data being used for the wrong reasons.
“We’ve been clear about our values. We oppose discrimination and we wouldn’t do any work to build a registry of Muslim Americans,” said Shaw.
This comes only a day after the tech summit at Trump Tower which many of Silicon Valley’s elite leaders attended, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. The meeting consisted of quite a few tech companies with employees that have previously made their stance to fight against any ‘unethical or illegal misuse of data’.
Employees from leading companies even went so far as to sign a declaration that they would rather resign than to comply with such a request should it be made.
We refuse to participate in the creation of databases of identifying information for the United States government to target individuals based on race, religion, or national origin.
We will advocate within our organizations:
- to minimize the collection and retention of data that would facilitate ethnic or religious targeting.
- to scale back existing datasets with unnecessary racial, ethnic, and national origin data.
- to responsibly destroy high-risk datasets and backups.
- to implement security and privacy best practices, in particular, for end-to-end encryption to be the default wherever possible.
- to demand appropriate legal process should the government request that we turn over user data collected by our organization, even in small amounts.
If we discover misuse of data that we consider illegal or unethical in our organizations:
- We will work with our colleagues and leaders to correct it.
- If we cannot stop these practices, we will exercise our rights and responsibilities to speak out publicly and engage in responsible whistleblowing without endangering users.
- If we have the authority to do so, we will use all available legal defenses to stop these practices.
- If we do not have such authority, and our organizations force us to engage in such misuse, we will resign from our positions rather than comply.
Furthermore, the undersigned intend to raise awareness and ask critical questions to ensure fair use of data and algorithms beyond even their own countries.
It’s worth noting that Facebook, who also signed the pledge, told Buzzfeed that nobody has asked them to help build a Muslim registry. Nor would they if they were asked to.