Googlers are petitioning against the Heritage Foundation head overseeing its ethics

Trying to get Google’s attention.
Trying to get Google’s attention.
Image: AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin
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More than 830 anonymous Google employees, as well as 145 workers and academics in the tech field have signed a petition asking Google to remove the president of the conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James, from the company’s external ethics advisory board.

James’ inclusion on the boardformally called the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC)—alongside industry insiders and ethicists has been met with criticism since the board was announced last week.

Objection to James’ inclusion on the board centers on her previous statements on transgender rights, notably calling transgender women “biological males” in a statement against the US Equality Act, a bill that would include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

“In selecting James, Google is making clear that its version of ‘ethics’ values proximity to power over the wellbeing of trans people, other LGBTQ people, and immigrants,” the petition says. “Such a position directly contravenes Google’s stated values.”

One member of the council, Alessandro Acquisti, stepped down this weekend, according to a statement on Twitter on Saturday (March 30). Acquisti was vague about why he stepped down, and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect the growing number of Google employees signing the petition, from more than 80 to more than 830. The number of non-Google signees has also grown from 35 to 145.