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Microsoft workers demand it drop $480 million US Army contract

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Some Microsoft Corp employees on Friday demanded that the company cancel a $480 million hardware contract to supply the U.S. Army, with 94 workers signing a petition calling on the company to stop developing “any and all weapons technologies.”

The organizing effort, described to Reuters by three Microsoft workers, offers the latest example in the last year of tech employees protesting cooperation with governments on emerging technologies.

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Microsoft won a contract in November to supply the Army with at least 2,500 prototypes of augmented reality headsets, which digitally display contextual information in front of a user’s eyes. The government has said the devices would be used on the battlefield and in training to improve soldiers “lethality, mobility and situational awareness.”

In the petition to Microsoft executives, posted on Twitter, the workers said they “did not sign up to develop weapons, and we demand a say in how our work is used.” They called on the company to develop “a public-facing acceptable use policy” for its technology and an external review board to publicly enforce it.

Microsoft said in a statement that it always appreciates employee feedback. It also referred to an October blog post by its president, Brad Smith, in which he said the company remained committed to assisting the military and would advocate for laws to ensure responsible use of new technologies.

The U.S. Army did not provide immediate comment.

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Shares of Microsoft fell 7 cents to $110.90 after hours on Friday.

Though many governments want to draw upon the expertise of the biggest U.S. tech companies, employee resistance has added a new challenge to already complicated relationships.

Worker pushback led Alphabet Inc last year to announce it would not renew a Pentagon contract in which its artificial intelligence technology is used to analyze drone imagery.

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In other cases, employee criticism has invited greater public scrutiny to deals, such as $10 billion cloud computing contract yet to be awarded and various contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

One Microsoft worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it was unclear whether any of the lead petitioners’ work was part of the Army contract. Another said several organizers work in the company’s cloud computing division, which is competing with rivals Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services to gain more government work.

Microsoft is expected unveil updates to HoloLens, its headset for businesses and governments, during an event at the Mobile World Congress industry conference in Barcelona on Sunday.

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… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Trump slurs media as ‘fake and corrupt’ for disputing his claims about Elton John

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President Donald Trump hyped his claims about selling out a New Hampshire rally in a new attack on the news media.

The president insisted Monday that he enjoyed "massive overflow crowds" at his rally last week at SNHU Arena in Manchester, and slurred journalists as "fake and corrupt" for reporting the venue wasn't filled to capacity.

The Fake and Corrupt Media is sooo bad for our Country, The Enemy of the People! https://t.co/GPiklem0u1

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019

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George Conway erupts on Trump lackeys who are smearing Scaramucci: ‘These people work for a rapist!’

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Several anonymous Trump officials told the Washington Examiner this week that former White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci regularly abused staff members in the 11 short days in which he was employed by the president.

George Conway, the husband of Trump White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, lashed out on Tuesday at the Trump officials who anonymously attacked Scaramucci and accused them of overlooking President Donald Trump's own abusive behavior.

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Fifth NRA board member resigns over ongoing power struggle with embattled CEO Wayne LaPierre

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Another member of the National Rifle Association's board of directors has resigned -- marking the fifth high-profile departure in recent weeks from the powerful gun manufacturer lobbying group.

NRA board member Richard Childress, a former NASCAR driver and owner of a car racing enterprise, resigned Monday in a letter obtained by Newsweek.

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