Big Tech made huge profits from war on terror, US activists say – DW (English)

Posted: September 16, 2021 at 6:31 am

Tech giants like Amazon, Google and Microsoft have made vast profits from US government contracts since the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington DC, according to a new report by three US activists groups.

The report's release was timed to coincide with Saturday's20th anniversary of the atrocities, which killed nearly 3,000 peopleand triggeredthe US-led war on terror.

The "Big Tech Sells War" report documents amassive increase in government contracts with Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Twitter since 2004 three years after the war or terror began.

The document, authoredby the Action Center on Race and the Economy and social justice groups LittleSis and MPower Change, detailed how the growth in military and government contracts came at the same time as the tech giants' web platforms became ubiquitous.

The report's authors said the biggest contracts came from the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security.

Among all the US agencies, at least $44.5 billion (37.6 billion) in contracts were awarded to Big Techfirms.

According to the report, 86% of Amazon's government contracts and 77% of Google's were central to the war on terror.

In 2019, two tech giantspulled ahead of the others, with Amazon signing nearly five times and Microsoft signing eight times as many federal contracts and subcontractscompared to 2015.

The report pulled its data from Tech Inquiry, an online tool that allows users to explore US government contracts.

The US Department of Defense alone spent $43.8 billion on Big Tech contracts since 2004, according to the report

The activist groupsalso highlighted a "revolving door" betweengovernment agencies and tech giants, detailing how hundreds of government employees have taken positions with the same US multinationals that have received huge contracts.

Among them were former State Department employee Jared Cohen who later founded Google's Jigsaw, a technology incubator that aims to explore "threats to open societies."One of Jigsaw's first projects was to develop counterterrorism tools for social media platforms.

Another example was Steve Pandelides, who worked for the FBI for over 20 years and is now director of security at Amazon Web Services.

The activist groups have called for tighter rules to regulate the revolving door between the government and Silicon Valley.

Al-Qaeda's attacks on New York and Washington DConSeptember 11, 2001,triggered new security laws domestically, and an extended military campaign to root out terrorism worldwide.

The campaign became known as the US-led war on terror and sparked the invasion of Afghanistan the hideout of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and later, Iraq, even though Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein was not linked to the 9/11 attacks.

Nearly 20 years of post-9/11 wars have cost Washingtonmore than $8 trillion and caused about 900,000 deaths, according to estimates by the Costs of War project at Brown University.

9/11 ushered in an era of increased surveillance, where counterterrorism became the justification for new security laws and monitoring by governments ranging from mass data collection to the growing use of artificial intelligence tools.

Muslims, in particular, have been targeted and continue to facediscrimination,suspicion and human rights breaches as a result of the heightenedsurveillance.

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Big Tech made huge profits from war on terror, US activists say - DW (English)

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