GitHub CEO says company 'synchronized' with Microsoft on working with ICE

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GitHub logo (Image credit: GitHub)

What you need to know

  • GitHub CEO Nat Friedman held an all-hands meeting with employees this week to address concerns over the company's recently renewed contract with ICE.
  • Friedman told employees its position on continuing to work with ICE is meant to stay in sync with Microsoft's policies.
  • Renewal of the $200,000 contract has caused backlash from employees over concerns about the Trump administration's immigration policies.

GitHub CEO Nat Friedman told employees this week that the company's decision to continue to work with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was made in an effort to align with Microsoft's policies. Friedman's comments were made at an all-hands meeting with GitHub employees, a transcript of which was obtained by Motherboard.

The meeting comes after GitHub faced backlash with a recent decision to renew a $200,000 contract with ICE earlier this week.

In response to a question about whether GitHub has the "autonomy to make this decision independent of Microsoft," Friedman responded:

That's a good question. It would have been very challenging for us to take a position on this [that's] very different from Microsoft's position, I would say, because the government customers and the policymakers see us as a single company. And so while I think there are a lot of areas where we have a lot of autonomy, this is an area where we would probably prefer to be synchronized more with Microsoft on this.

Friedman continued, saying the decision was the result of a conversation with Microsoft. "It's not a matter of taking orders purely, but it was a conversation with folks at Microsoft. So I'd say it's an area of interdependence at least. I hope that's clear enough."

ICE and the Trump administration have come under fire over the treatment of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Microsoft last year faced criticism for its decision to continue to work with ICE, despite its stated support for family unification.

Speaking with Motherboard, a GitHub employee stated that the company's work with ICE has been a point of concern since 2017.

"People wanted the contract cancelled basically as soon as early 2017, as soon as the travel ban came up," the employee stated. "The calls to cancel got a lot louder as soon as the Microsoft acquisition was announced."

The contract, which provides for a GitHub Enterprise Server, was initiated in 2016.

GitHub employees have spoken out through an open letter issued through an anonymous Twitter account called GitHubbers.

"We implore GitHub to immediately cancel its contract with ICE, no matter the cost. Now is the time to take a stand, or be complicit," the letter states after calling attention to issues of "overcrowding, sexual abuse, and inadequate food and medical care" faced by thousands of immigrants detained at the border.

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In an email to employees announcing the contract's extension earlier this week, Friedman called the contract "not financially material." The CEO added that GitHub will donate $500,000 to "nonprofit organizations working to support immigrant communities targeted by the current administration."

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • Why does this continue to be posted? Yes it's Microsoft "news" but is it really necessary? I want to hear more about Windows, Xbox and Surface hardware. Not propaganda. Wow.
  • Its also ridiculous that this is even in question.
    God forbid anyone tries to enforce laws
  • US citizens are also being held in these camps, eddiDOTexe, on suspicion of being "illegal" - one of them despite his documentation which ICE claimed was fraudulent but found out a month later was real.
    It's a violation of human rights, plain and simple. It's also a violation of the 5th Amendment's due process clause, by the way, which guarantees due process as a natural right to all, citizen or not.
    If people are being held indefinitely without a deadline to their hearing in court (as is the case since April by the orders of AG Barr), that's forced detention and a violation of due process. They're held in miserable conditions and aren't even allowed to go back until they see a judge which now has no time limit and could take months if not more.
  • >US citizens are also being held in these camps, eddiDOTexe, on suspicion of being "illegal" - one of them despite his documentation which ICE claimed was fraudulent but found out a month later was real.
    Yes and many others whom are innocent of various crimes have been sent to jail, others have had their lives ruined over rape claims etc, what's your point? >They're held in miserable conditions
    Yes u go to jail when u break the law. Again, what's your point?
    Boohoo due process yes we've let these people roam free while they await trial and they can't be bothered to show up when they're summoned. Maybe you don't see things from my perspective, but as someone who comes from a country south of the border, I'm sick and tired of how laxed we've been with this entire situation.
    Yes there are good people among these illegal immigrants, but the law is the law. And I've no sympathy for those who intend to circumvent their way around it, only to turn around and **** over anyone as soon as they have the opportunity to do so. This is cemented in their culture. I have family who does this, I have "friends" who do this, I know people who unfortunately were granted citizenship and then went on to start their own companies and then discriminate against anyone who isn't of their skin color and refuse to hire those who aren't "raza" and only bother hiring those outside of that for the sake of not being investigated. Exploit fellow "raza" with miserable pay and get away with it because they pay them under the table.
    Those who come here legally despise those who enter illegally. Because they know..
    We all know..
    But yeah continue virtue signaling
  • Cool story, you're totally not a sock puppet behind an online avatar.
  • Oh so no actual retort now that someone who actually knows what these countries are like first hand speaks up? I didn't think so.
    Sit down.
  • So it’s simple. We post what we want cause it’s our site 😬
  • Lol 😂 true that
  • You are right you can, but if you don't take suggestions of your patrons seriously I don't know how you expect to be taken seriously? I've followed this site for quite a while. Years. Hell, even promoted the site! I have enjoyed it. But as a fan let me suggest that arrogance is in extreme poor taste. Rather to explain why you post these articles you simply brush off a longtime loyal reader. Lazy. Good luck!
  • I have to agree with you on this. I've been reading this site for a very long time. I've found myself looking at it less and less lately. I think I'll just uninstall the app. Since that's the only time I look at it. Good luck being an ass hat Daniel!
  • Seriously you guys get a life... We are not in kindergarten... While what Daniel did is childish it was meant to be fun... Your butt hurt reaction is just as childish if not more... So stop being all up tight you are the ******* customer nobody wants anyway...
  • Byyyeeeee! Thanks for the shoes.
  • This is not a democracy it's dantatorship.
  • I see what u did there
    I SEE IT