Amnesty International is teaming up with 38 other human rights groups and individuals to call for a halt to Google’s plans to set up an enterprise cloud business in Saudi Arabia because of concerns over the country’s human rights track record.
The joint statement — signed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Media Matters for Democracy, among others — calls for Google to end its plans in Saudi Arabia until the company conducts a public human rights assessment and makes it clear what kinds of government requests for data it won’t honor. Even more important, the letter writers state, is conducting that investigation in the open, actually consulting with the people Google could inadvertently help Saudi Arabia to hurt, and speaking to groups in the country who can better understand the issues there.
The organizations cite several human rights violations that they argue should give Google pause. Saudi Arabia has a documented history of seeking to spy on and violate its citizen’s privacy, including allegedly recruiting Twitter employees to spy on the company from within. It’s also taken extreme and violent measures to silence dissent from people in positions to criticize, most recently with the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.