Human rights groups demand Google to stop its Cloud Region plans in Saudi Arabia

Human rights groups and activists have recently made a demand to Google to stop its plans to develop a Cloud Region in Saudi Arabia due to its impact on human rights.

Indeed, Google had announced an agreement with Saudi Aramco to establish a Google Cloud region in Saudi Arabia as well as provide Enterprise Cloud services back in December 2020. However, a joint letter from 39 human rights and digital rights organizations stated the significant human rights risks that it would lead to, including the violations of the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and association, and non-discrimination, among others.

Saudi Arabia is known for digital surveillance, and thus it is deemed unsafe to host a Google Cloud Platform, as this would only give the authorities greater powers to infiltrate networks and gain access to data on peaceful activists, according to the groups.

Therefore, the human rights groups recommended that Google conduct thorough human rights due diligence process, and publish a summary of findings, including steps it is taking to mitigate risks of adverse human rights impacts. Besides, they also want Google to prevent or mitigate risks of adverse human rights impacts as well as clearly communicate the steps it is taking.

The groups ask Google to take responsibility and develop baseline standards to take into account human rights before expanding to other countries.