It was announced on the BusinessInsider website in May 2020 that Google had signed a a deal with the US Department of Defense to use its Cloud tools to combat cyber threats.
In a statement, Google said its cloud tech would be used "to detect, protect against, and respond to cyber threats worldwide," as part of the contract with the DoD's Defense Innovation Unit (DIU).
The company faced backlash from employees for its last partnership with the Pentagon called Project Maven. It would have used Google's AI and machine learning to analyze drone footage, but was abandoned in 2019 after thousands of Google employees signed a petition protesting the deal.


Google is partnering with the Department of Defense to fight cybercrime (20 May 2020)

In May 2020 Ethical Consumer viewed Google Inc's website for the company's supply chain management policy. A 2019 Responsible Supply Chain report was found, which also linked to the Google’s Supplier Code of Conduct and other information.

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 multistakeholder organisations or trade unions or NGOs to help verify its labour standards within its supply chain, or had any complaints procedure that workers would be aware of and able to use.

Auditing and reporting (rudimentary)
Google stated that "We regularly perform independent third-party audits at our suppliers’ facilities to determine whether the supplier is meeting our standards, to hear directly from workers, and to identify and help resolve issues....We performed 236 on-site assessments from 2013 to 2018...When we find that a supplier is not conforming to our expectations, we expect the supplier to provide a corrective action plan (CAP) that outlines the root cause of the finding, how and when that company will resolve the issue, and what steps will be taken to prevent recurrence." Google provided some details of how much non-compliance had been found and the most common reasons for non-conformance. However there wasn't full disclosure of results, a schedule or commitment to audit the whole supply chain. Overall Google was considered to have a rudimentary 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.


Google sustainability website (13 May 2020)

The Dirty List, produced by Burma Campaign UK in order to highlight the role of international companies in assisting the military to continue to commit human rights violations, was resumed in December 2018. The list also highlighted the role of international companies that operated in the country in a way that contributed to human rights violations and environmental destruction.
Google hosts applications created by the Burmese military. This includes one for Min Aung Hlaing, Commander in Chief of the Burmese military, whom United Nations investigators have said should be prosecuted for genocide. It also hosts applications for the Myawady military newspaper, the Ministry of Defence, and military-owned companies.
Google was still on the list when it was viewed in June 2020.


The Dirty List (December 2018)

In August 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed a report via the Business & Human Rights website, first published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in February 2020, entitled “Uyghurs for sale ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang”.

The findings of the report were summarized as follows: “The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 83 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen.

In all, ASPI’s research has identified 83 foreign and Chinese companies directly or indirectly benefiting from the use of Uyghur workers outside Xinjiang through potentially abusive labour transfer programs as recently as 2019”. Google was listed as one of these companies.

Business & Human Rights had contacted all of the companies named in the report and published their responses. At the time of writing, no response had been received from Google.

As a result, the company lost half a mark under Human Rights.


Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) report: Uyghurs for sale (3 December 2020)

In June 2020, Ethical Consumer viewed Google's website and found it that developed facial recognition technology.

The technology was considered to be insufficiently regulated and to pose a major threat to civil liberties when used for surveillance purposes.

On the use of facial recognition for surveillance, UK campaign group Big Brother Watch stated: “Live facial recognition in public spaces is a mass surveillance method and a huge expansion of the surveillance state. It inverts the vital democratic principle of suspicion preceding surveillance, treating populations like suspects.”

The company lost half a mark under the Human Rights category.

Reference: (2020)

26th November 2019 and titled "Google fires employee who protested company's work with US border patrol". It stated:

"On Friday, about 200 employees rallied outside Google’s office in San Francisco to demand that two suspended worker activists be reinstated. By Monday, at least one of the suspended workers said she had been fired, with reports that three other Google staffers had also been let go. Rebecca Rivers, a software engineer at Google who had been involved with internal protests against Google’s work with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), announced her firing on Twitter on Monday afternoon. Three other Google staffers were also fired on Monday, according to an internal company memo obtained by Bloomberg."

As a result Google was marked down in the Workers Rights category.


Google fires employee who protested company's work with US border patrol (22 November 2019)

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)