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

Google drops out of Pentagon's $10-billion cloud computing competition

In early March, Microsoft also announced a cloud-based environment for the Department of Defense as part of its Microsoft 365 for US Government offering. Some Google employees reportedly quit over the company's work on Project Maven, a drone initiative for the USA government that could weaponize their AI research.

A Google spokeswoman has said they are not bidding on the Jedi Contract because they are not sure if it would support AI principles and the portions of the contract were out of scope with current government certifications.

Google drew up a new policy on artificial intelligence this year, following staff complaints about its work with the United States government on use of AI in weapons systems.

Developing the system "will revolutionize how we fight and win wars", Defense Department chief information officer Dana Deasy said in a recent interview.

In addition to its concerns that some of the contract's terms might not align with its principles, Google also lacks some military clearances that would allow it to take up the assignment on its own.

Google isn't the only major tech company working with parts of the United States military.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella also recently said that the company is looking to strike right balance in terms of its work with the government. Bids for the contract, which could run for up to ten years, must be in by 12 October.

Microsoft and other cloud vendors are keeping close tabs on the estimated multi-billion-dollar U.S. DoD JEDI cloud contract, as it winds its way through the bidding process. Microsoft first announced Azure Government Secret back in October, and today Julia White, Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Azure said that new Azure Regions dedicated to secret USA classified data will be available in Q1 2019.

Google is behind other technology companies such as Amazon and Microsoft in obtaining government cloud-security authorizations that depend on the sensitivity of data a service is hosting. Though Maven itself was of limited value to the company, senior Google executives allegedly viewed it as a gateway to lucrative defence contracts involving projects like as surveillance systems that could monitor entire cities.

Google employees have previously had issue with the company's interaction with government agencies.

The front-runner for the contract is widely believed to be Amazon, which already has a $US600 million contract with the Central Intelligence Agency. The decision follows a months-long protest by Google's workers, who oppose the company profiting from government defense contracts.

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