Eeman Abbasi speaks during a protest on the University of Connecticut campus against the election of Donald Trump as president.
In the month since the election, fears of Donald Trump’s proposed Muslim registry have already prompted plans to overrun the list with non-Muslim allies and fight the Islamaphobic idea by any means possible.
Now the tech industry is jumping in to push back against a Muslim registry.
A list of signatures from more than 320 engineers, executives, designers, and other tech employees started growing Tuesday after the Never Again.Tech group first formed. Now employees from Stripe, Google, GitHub, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Pandora, Giphy, Slack and so many more companies have pledged to combat any such data collection.
We refuse to assist the US gov in mass deportation & religious targeting. Join us. Sign the pledge at https://t.co/U6PdhpQqox
— neveragain.tech (@neveragaintech) December 13, 2016
Trump said on the campaign trail he wanted to build a government database to track Muslims in America, but since his election he hasn’t provided much more in the way of details or policy to back the idea. It’s not clear if this would be something like the Bush-era National Security Entry-Exit Registration System that was implemented after 9/11 (and later ended by President Barack Obama) or something more drastic.
Even if the details are nebulous and the execution of the idea seems unlikely, the possibility of this type of targeting has many worried, particularly in this tech-filled, hyper-connected era.
The pledge says everyone who signs stands in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants "and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies."
The site goes on to explain what the pledge is about: "We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable."
It also advocates that its organizations "destroy high-risk datasets and backups" and for "end-to-end encryption to be the default wherever possible."
Mike Nolan, an engineer at Giphy, a GIF database company in New York, signed the letter because he believes engineers build powerful tools that can have a big impact — but sometimes the negative effects can be forgotten, especially when it comes to data and security.
He told Mashable he thinks the signature list helps promote the idea of building products for good. He thinks engineers should make "ethics something they think about everyday."
Nolan knows that Giphy is an unlikely source to be tapped for data to use against Muslims or other groups, but his signature is symbolic and is meant to push more engineers to think about their influence.
"I think the more people who make a steadfast stance against something as xenophobic like a Muslim registry the better," he said.
The pledge, which includes a list of "actions" that revolve around data sharing and ethically using technology, came out only a day before top tech leaders are expected to sit down with the Trump administration.