Google drops out of bidding for $10 billion Pentagon data deal

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Microsoft's cloud computing platform will greatly expand its government services offerings in early 2019, officials said Tuesday, including providing secret region capabilities for the Department of Defense. Some Google employees reportedly quit over the company's work on Project Maven, a drone initiative for the U.S. government that could weaponize their AI research.

Bloomberg reported Monday that the Mountain View, California, search engine giant was pulling out of the competition for two reasons: not all of its government cloud-security certifications align with the scope of the contract, known as JEDI, and the work may conflict with a new set of company principles created to steer what kind of artificial intelligence work Google will undertake.

According to Reuters, the company's AI principles bar using the software for weapons or with services that could potentially violate accepted worldwide standards on human rights and surveillance.

Google also expressed that a JEDI contract open to multiple vendors would have allowed the company to submit a "compelling solution for portions of it", stating that a multi-cloud approach is in the best interest of government agencies as it allows them to choose the right cloud for the right workload. The search giant plans to continue working with the military though its guidelines prohibit the use of AI in weaponry.

Google decided not to renew its involvement in Maven and this week backed away from the cloud computing contract, citing similar concerns about values. A Google spokesperson reported that the company is working to hold up the USA administration with its cloud in many areas.

"They've also been very specific as to how everyone should be securing their assets, including government entities", he said.

When the JEDI proposal was initially released in draft form, technology trade groups were concerned that only Amazon Web Services could meet these requirements, because of its work providing classified cloud services for the Central Intelligence Agency.

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Regardless of the Pentagon's decision for a cloud provider in the winner-take-all, $10 billion award, a Microsoft partner told CRN the new capabilities will be a boon for engagements with the federal government and enterprise customers.

That will provide federal agencies and their partners with the ability to leverage the cloud for more of their operations, including where sensitive data like personally identifiable information can be securely used, because more features will automatically include the security and compliance levels needed to do business, White said.

The front-runner for the contract is widely believed to be Amazon, which already has a $US600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency.

On Monday the firm had announced that it was closing Google+ after for the consumers after a massive data breach.

Bidding for the JEDI program began two months ago and ends this week.

The Google withdrawal is also the latest sign of the knock-on impact of the rise of ethical activism among tech industry employees.

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