In August 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed an article on Wired dated 6-7-2018 and titled "Google Sets Limits on Its Use of AI but Allows Defense Work"

It stated that following extensive protests, Google was going to stop working on a Pentagon project called "Maven" that uses machine learning to interpret drone surveillance video. However, it would continue to do other IT work for the US defense department. Google was thus marked down under Arms and Military Supply.


Google Sets Limits on Its Use of AI but Allows Defense Work (6 July 2018)

In October 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed Google Inc's website for the company's supply chain management policy.

A section called Responsible Manufacturing was found which contained Google’s Supplier Code of Conduct.

Supply chain policy (rudimentary)
Google's supply chain policy included adequate clauses on child labour, forced labour, freedom of association and non-discrimination. However the clause on working hours was not considered adequate as it was qualified by "except in emergency or unusual situations." It did not contain a clause guaranteeing workers' a living wage. Overall Google was considered to have a rudimentary supply chain policy.

Stakeholder engagement (poor)
No references could be found to the effect that Google was working with organisations to help verify its labour standards within its supply chain. It was a member of the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition however this was an industry led organisation.

Auditing and reporting (poor)
Google's Supply Chain Policy stated that it performed "periodic self-evaluations to ensure conformity to legal and regulatory requirements, the content of the Supplier Code and customer contractual requirements related to social and environmental responsibility." It also confirmed that there was process for "correction of deficiencies identified by internal or external assessments, inspections, investigations and reviews." In it's 2018 Responsible Supply Chain report, it stated, 'Our audit program prioritizes our contract manufacturers,
original equipment manufacturers, and suppliers initially identified as high risk. We performed 174 on-site assessments from 2013 to 2017.' It included a summary of the most common non-conformance findings. However there was not full disclosure of results, a schedule or commitment to audit the whole supply chain. Overall Google was considered to have a poor approach to auditing and reporting.

Difficult issues (poor)
Google did not appear to be addressing any difficult issues such as illegal freedom of association found within supply chains. Overall Google was considered to have a poor approach to difficult issues.

Overall Google received Ethical Consumer's worst rating for supply chain management.


Supplier code of conduct (20 August 2018)

A September 2018 Guardian article was titled, 'Google's prototype Chinese search engine links searches to phone numbers', subtitled, 'The feature on the secret prototype, Dragonfly, would put Chinese citizens at increased risk of government repression'.
It stated, 'This feature would allow the Chinese government to simply associate searches with individuals, thereby putting Chinese citizens at increased risk of government repression if they search for topics that their government deems politically sensitive, according to the Intercept.'
'Once heralded as an exemplar of corporate bravery for resisting Chinese attempts to censor searches in 2010 Google is now facing heavy criticism, including internally.
Several Google employees have quit in reaction to the project and about 1,400 employees signed an internal letter pushing for more information from Google about the company’s return to China.'
'In a statement from a Google spokesperson, Google says that any reports about a new search engine in China are premature.'
'Since Project Dragonfly became public, Google has not released further details, prompting an open letter from 14 human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, pressing for further details and commitments from Google to “safeguard against human rights violations”.'


China Dragonfly search engine (19 September 2018)

In December 2016 the Guardian reported that Google had altered autocomplete suggestions in its search engine after it was alerted to antisemitic, sexist and racists entries. In an article entitled "Google alters search autocomplete to remove 'are Jews evil' suggestion" it reported when users typed the phrase “are Jews” into Google, the search engine suggested “evil”, for “are women” it again suggested “evil” and for “are Muslims” it suggested “bad”.
Following the report in the Oberver article "Google, democracy and the truth about internet search" Google changed the algorithms so that the searches for Jews and women no longer returned those results. Although it was reported that the “are Muslims bad” autocomplete was still present.
A Google spokesperson said: “We took action within hours of being notified on Friday of the autocomplete results.” Google did not comment on its decision to alter some but not all those raised in the article.
It said: “Our search results are a reflection of the content across the web. This means that sometimes unpleasant portrayals of sensitive subject matter online can affect what search results appear for a given query. These results don’t reflect Google’s own opinions or beliefs – as a company, we strongly value a diversity of perspectives, ideas and cultures."

The article explained that this was not the first time that Google autocomplete and search algorithms had caused offence.
- An auto-suggested photo tag within Google’s Photos service in July 2015 labelled two black teenagers as “Gorillas”. Google apologised and said it was working on “longer term fixes” around the recognition of dark-skinned faces as well as the linguistics of photo labels.
- In May 2015, Google apologised when the White House was returned as a result for searches for “nigger house” and “nigger king” within Google maps. Google declined to explain why the results occurred but a spokesperson said: “Some inappropriate results are surfacing in Google Maps that should not be, and we apologise for any offence this may have caused.”
- In April 2016 Google apologised after a search for “unprofessional hairstyles for work” yielded image results showing predominantly black women with natural hair, while searching for “professional” ones returned pictures of coiffed, white women.
- In June 2016, Google’s image search also caused offence by returning criminal mugshots for searches of “three black teenagers” but not for “three white teenagers”.
The company had previously denied “conspiracy theories” accusing it of censoring its search results to please the Conservative party in exchange for a deal over its taxes.


Google alters search autocomplete to remove 'are Jews evil' suggestion (5 December 2016)

In October 2018 Ethical Consumer viewed Google's careers website and found the company had offices based in the following locations: China, Colombia, India, Israel, Nigeria, Phillipines, Russia, Thailand. At the time of writing Ethical Consumer considered each country to be governed by an oppressive regime.

Reference: (22 October 2018)

In April 2017 The Guardian online reported that Google had been accused of possible employment violations which had emerged as result of a lawsuit to compel company, a federal contractor, to provide compensation data. In the article called "Google accused of 'extreme' gender pay discrimination by US labor department" it said the US Department of Labor (DoL) had said it had evidence of “systemic compensation disparities”.
Agency officials said "As part of an ongoing DoL investigation, the government has collected information that suggests the internet search giant is violating federal employment laws with its salaries for women."
Janet Herold, regional solicitor for the DoL, said: “The investigation is not complete, but at this point the department has received compelling evidence of very significant discrimination against women in the most common positions at Google headquarters. The government’s analysis at this point indicates that discrimination against women in Google is quite extreme, even in this industry.”
Google strongly denied the accusations of inequities, claiming it did not have a gender pay gap.
The allegations emerged at a hearing in federal court as part of a lawsuit the DoL filed against Google in January 2017, seeking to compel the company to provide salary data and documents to the government.
The Guardian reported "Google is a federal contractor, which means it is required to allow the DoL to inspect and copy records and information about its its compliance with equal opportunity laws. Last year, the department’s office of federal contract compliance programs requested job and salary history for Google employees, along with names and contact information, as part of the compliance review. Google, however, repeatedly refused to hand over the data, which was a violation of its contractual obligations with the federal government, according to the DoL’s lawsuit. After the suit was originally filed, a company spokesperson claimed that Google had provided “hundreds of thousands of records” to the government and that the requests outlined in the complaint were “overbroad”, revealed confidential information, or violated employees’ privacy."
Lisa Barnett Sween, one of Google’s attorneys, testified in opening remarks that the DoL’s request constituted a “fishing expedition that has absolutely no relevance to the compliance review”. She said the request was an unconstitutional violation of the company’s fourth amendment right to protection from unreasonable searches.


Google accused of 'extreme' gender pay discrimination by US labor department (7 April 2017)