The anti-military sentiment within Google's ranks is growing stronger following the discontinuation of the polarizing Project Maven; after the initiative prompted a number of the company's employees to quit, Bloomberg reported about another episode which saw several high-profile software engineers at the company refuse to work on a security tool that would have helped the Mountain View, California-based tech giant win more military contracts. The individuals in question became known as the "Group of Nine" within the firm and were glorified by their colleagues who agreed Google shouldn't be investing in technologies used for waging war, sources claim, declining to name the people in question.
The solution that sparked the controversy is called the "air gap" and is effectively a physical computer separator meant to isolate clients from any particular network. Unlike traditional cloud storage providers, air gap would allow individuals or organizations to pinpoint the exact piece of hardware that's hosting their data, as well as the physical location of any potential backups. Such a hosting system would likely be an attractive proposition for the federal government, especially agencies conducting confidential work. Google's technical infrastructure SVP Urs Hölzle agreed to place the air gap project on hold following internal backlash and it remains unclear whether the firm plans to resume its development at any point in the future, as per the same report.
Continuing work on the project without having the Group of Nine involved in it shouldn't be a technical issue as the functionality is relatively straightforward to develop, though doing so would raise additional ethical concerns. Both Microsoft's Azure division and Amazon Web Services already implemented air-gap security measures into their systems to a degree, which is part of the reason they are allowed to sell their hosting services to virtually every federal agency, no matter how sensitive the data it handles is. Google is presently facing pressure from stateside legislators over its decision not to renew the lucrative Project Maven contract, having recently been called out by a bipartisan letter suggesting it's more willing to work with China-based Huawei than U.S. Military.