Apple, Google, and Uber have all broken their respective silences on whether they would participate in helping build a Muslim registry for the incoming Trump administration, BuzzFeed reports. In a statement issued today, an Apple spokesperson said, “We think people should be treated the same no matter how they worship, what they look like, who they love. We haven’t been asked and we would oppose such an effort.”
Earlier today, a Google spokesperson issued a statement saying, “In relation to the hypothetical of whether we would ever help build a ‘muslim registry’ — we haven’t been asked, of course we wouldn’t do this and we are glad — from all that we’ve read — that the proposal doesn’t seem to be on the table.” Meanwhile, Uber responded to BuzzFeed with a terse “no” in response to a similar inquiry.
These are just the latest — but arguably among the most important and high-profile — Silicon Valley players to go on record refusing to build a database that could be used to track and target Muslim Americans. Pressure started mounting last month when The Intercept began asking tech companies about the subject and only received a response from Twitter, which said it would never participate in such a project.
The situation then heightened this week when a Facebook spokesperson, who had initially refused to comment on the matter, accidentally emailed BuzzFeed a message intended for a colleague. The email compared any statement regarding the building of a Muslim registry to a “straw man” argument and suggested Facebook’s PR strategy should be to remain silent. BuzzFeed published the email, which then forced Facebook to issue a statement saying it had not been asked, nor would it agree, to helping build a Muslim registry.
Since Facebook’s embarrassing stumble, a number of other tech companies have gone on the record disavowing the highly controversial Trump campaign promise. Microsoft PR head Frank X. Shaw said in a statement given to BuzzFeed, “We oppose discrimination and we wouldn’t do any work to build a registry of Muslim Americans.” Both Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Alphabet chief Larry Page attended a summit with President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday, as did Apple CEO Tim Cook and Uber CEO Travis Kalanick.
Ride-hailing company Lyft, which like Uber could hypothetically be asked to hand over user travel data, said today it would refuse to participate with the government if it were asked for such data or other tools to build a Muslim registry, according to Inc. So too did publishing company Medium, which gives writers the freedom to publish dissenting views under pseudonyms. And yesterday, WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg signed a fast-growing industry pledge on behalf of his company Automattic, which oversees WordPress.com and a number of other publishing tools.
One notable exception here has been Oracle, the cloud computing giant that has in the past counted the National Security Agency as a client. The company declined to comment when asked by BuzzFeed about a Muslim registry or whether it still works with the NSA. In a separate event, Trump yesterday appointed Oracle CEO Safra Catz to the executive committee of his transition team.