Daniel Hanley, a cybersecurity engineer at IBM, doesn’t want to be the center of attention. When I asked to take his picture outside one of IBM’s New York City offices, he told me that he wasn’t really into the whole “organizer profile thing.”
Dressed in jeans and a light jacket, and sporting a backpack with Black Lives Matter and Democratic Socialists of America pins, Hanley spent his second vacation day in a row speaking out about what he feels is IBM’s complacency towards the Trump regime. This week, he traveled to New York from Atlanta, where he works and just held another IBM petition event alongside human rights activists, to deliver a petition signed by over 1,000 IBM employees denouncing IBM CEO Ginni Rometty’s open letter congratulating Trump for his victory in November.
“In response to your open letter to Mr. Trump, we are disappointed that you did not reaffirm the core values which differentiate both IBM as a company and us collectively as IBMers,” the petition reads. “While we understand your willingness to engage in constructive dialogue with the president-elect, we believe our shared culture and values remain not only constant, but also central to our transformation underpinned by cloud and cognitive initiatives.”
Hanley is acutely aware of the history of his employer, which sold Nazi Germany the punch machines used to perpetuate the Holocaust. As a security engineer, he worries that the same systems he builds could one day be used to register Muslims or work as censorship tools. His motivations, however, don’t stop at new issues brought on by having a man like Trump in the White House. If you listen to Hanley’s impassioned speech, you’ll hear him standing up for classic workers rights issues like severance pay and 401k contributions.
His speech outside IBM’s office in New York attracted a few onlookers who were coming and going from the building on their lunch break. Despite handing out fliers earlier that morning and answering questions from an NYPD detective, not too many IBM employees came out to listen. Maybe it was the rain.
It’s clear that Hanley is pushing for something bigger than one action outside of company offices. In my conversation with him, he seemed excited about the IBM employees who signed the petition, and motivated to mobilize those like-minded employees to oppose Trump in the future.
Pondering the potential ramifications of an IBM-powered Trump presidency is genuinely terrifying, but with people like Hanley, who won’t settle for the halfhearted handwringing of leaders like Rometty, there’s hope that tech’s top brass will see the light.