When engineer Seth Vargo discovered that a company using its open source code worked with the United States Customs Immigration and Control Service, he withdrew the Github code. The company, the business software maker Chef, discovered that, without the code, its business stopped.
Vargo had worked for the Seattle-based company, but he didn't know about the contract with ICE until Technology writer Shanley Kane tweeted about this on Monday . ICE, which was formed under the presidency of George W. Bush in 2003, has sparked protests by increasing deportation and family separation policies under President Donald Trump.
Vargo contacted Chef's executives to better understand his logic for the ICE contract, but received no response for three days. "It became clear that they had no interest in recognizing their association with ICE, the organization best known for separating families and locking children in cages," Vargo wrote in a text conversation with The Verge .
This morning, he decided to withdraw the Github open source project. He knew that the company would realize, but he was surprised to discover that it depended so much on his code that he began to experience significant downtime immediately.
"As software engineers, we have to comply with some kind of moral compass," Vargo wrote. "When I learned that my code was being used for purposes that I personally perceive as evil, I felt the obligation to avoid it."
Vargo's actions are part of a larger wave of activism among technology employees who began protesting against company policies. and government contracts that go against its own moral code. In August, 1,500 Google employees signed a petition asking the company to stop working with ICE and the US Customs and Border Protection. UU. (CBP) after a contract with border protection came to light. When Vargo pulled his code, Chef employees expressed their support.
supports the Google engineer who took the code from Chef for working with ICE. You've made my job harder today, but I really don't care.
– Pink Tide (@smrt_fasizmu) September 19, 2019
In a letter to the employees, Chef CEO Barry Crist acknowledged that the employees could feel uncomfortable with the contract:
No I think it is appropriate, practical or within our mission to examine specific government projects with the purpose of selecting which US agencies we should or should not do business with. My goal is to continue growing Chef as a company that transcends numerous presidential administrations in the USA. UU.
The company could not be reached immediately for comment.