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Is Trump Mulling Peter Thiel for a Top Intelligence Advisory Post? | Vanity Fair
Sources in the administration contend that more disruption is coming. For starters, according to one senior White House adviser, there has been serious thought given to whether Amazon, Google, and Facebook are, in fact, “public utilities.” Said this senior official, “Maybe not Amazon, but certainly Facebook and Google. They’re virtually monopolistic. And ‘anti-trust’ ought to take a hard look at them. . . . Is [their] data a public trust? Is information now a common good? You are going to see a big drumbeat on this. I’m not saying anything’s going to happen, but it’s certainly going to be looked at. That will be an airburst over Brother Zuckerberg.”
tech-culture  trump  palantir 
4 weeks ago by celine
How Palantir, Peter Thiel's Secretive Data Company, Pushed Its Way Into Policing | WIRED
A Backchannel investigation reveals the difficult issues police and communities face when they adopt Palantir's secretive data-scooping software.
big_data  palantir  predictive_policing  algorithms 
9 weeks ago by osi_info_program
How Palantir, Peter Thiel's Secretive Data Company, Pushed Its Way Into Policing | WIRED
Palantir had been selling its data storage, analysis, and collaboration software to police departments nationwide on the basis of rock-solid security. “Palantir Law Enforcement provides robust, built-in privacy and civil liberties protections, including granular access controls and advanced data retention capabilities,” its website reads....

Law enforcement accounts for just a small part of Palantir’s business, which mostly consists of military clients, intelligence outfits like the CIA or Homeland Security, and large financial institutions. In police departments, Palantir’s tools are now being used to flag traffic scofflaws, parole violators, and other everyday infractions. But the police departments that deploy Palantir are also dependent upon it for some of their most sensitive work. Palantir’s software can ingest and sift through millions of digital records across multiple jurisdictions, spotting links and sharing data to make or break cases.

The scale of Palantir’s implementation, the type, quantity and persistence of the data it processes, and the unprecedented access that many thousands of people have to that data all raise significant concerns about privacy, equity, racial justice, and civil rights. But until now, we haven’t known very much about how the system works, who is using it, and what their problems are. And neither Palantir nor many of the police departments that use it are willing to talk about it.

In one of the largest systematic investigations of the company to date, Backchannel filed dozens of public records requests with police forces across America. When Palantir started selling its products to law enforcement, it also laid a paper trail. All 50 states have public records laws providing access to contracts, documents, and emails of local and government bodies. That makes it possible to peer inside the company’s police-related operations in ways that simply aren’t possible with its national security work....

What’s clear is that law enforcement agencies deploying Palantir have run into a host of problems. Exposing data is just the start. In the documents our requests produced, police departments have also accused the company, backed by tech investor and Trump supporter Peter Thiel, of spiraling prices, hard-to-use software, opaque terms of service, and “failure to deliver products”...,

These documents show how Palantir applies Silicon Valley’s playbook to domestic law enforcement. New users are welcomed with discounted hardware and federal grants, sharing their own data in return for access to others’. When enough jurisdictions join Palantir’s interconnected web of police departments, government agencies, and databases, the resulting data trove resembles a pay-to-access social network—a Facebook of crime that’s both invisible and largely unaccountable to the citizens whose behavior it tracks....

No one outside Palantir seems to know for sure how many police departments in America use its technology. (Despite multiple requests, Palantir declined to make anyone available for an interview, or to comment on any of Backchannel’s findings.) The New York Police Department has certainly used it, as have Cook County sheriffs in Chicago, the Virginia State Police, the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., and a dozen law enforcement agencies in Utah.... one state, California, accounts for many of the deployments—and perhaps close to 90 percent of the sales—of Palantir’s systems to domestic law enforcement to date....

The first city in California to get involved was Los Angeles. In 2009, LAPD’s then chief of police, Bill Bratton, wanted to test the real-time analysis and visualization of data. “We were looking for [a] tool to do a better job of visualizing our radio calls as they were coming out,” remembers Sean Malinowski, then a captain but now a deputy chief at the LAPD. “Palantir partnered with us on [an] experiment to come up with [a] situational awareness tool.”

That pilot soon evolved into an investigative analysis platform that could access databases of crime reports and license plate information. Bratton even thought that Palantir might be just the tool for a far more ambitious program of predictive policing (the idea that historical data could provide clues to where crimes might occur in the future). He asked Craig Uchida, a consultant and researcher in data-driven policing, to draw up a plan.... “In LA, we started looking at what could be done with violent crime using data, to see where crime was emerging and what was causing it,” says Uchida. ...

Uchida was a big believer in hotspot policing: deploying officers on bike or foot to troubled areas in order to defuse tension and nip possible crimes in the bud. He proposed a project called Laser that would crunch six years of crime data to identify areas of the city with high levels of gun crime. ... Each time officers stopped someone, they would fill out cards about the stop. These “field interview” cards would capture as much information as possible, from the person’s name and address to the bike or car they were driving—even the tattoos they had. “Most of the time it didn’t lead to anything, but it was…data that went into the system, and that’s what I wanted: more data about what was happening, who they were stopping and why,” says Uchida....

Back at base, analysts and officers would use that information to create so-called Chronic Offender Bulletins, identifying key individuals deemed “potential” or “probable” repeat offenders. These people then received extra attention from special units and patrols employing enhanced surveillance techniques, including license plate readers. Before Palantir, building each profile was a time-consuming job, taking about an hour for an analyst to tie together information from disparate sources. With officers in Newton stopping around 100 people each day, according to Uchida, the analysts could never keep up.

“This is where Palantir came into play,” he says. Because Palantir could automatically integrate everything from citizen tips and crime incidents to field interviews and partial license plates, it dramatically accelerated the production of Chronic Offender Bulletins. What used to take an hour could be generated in three to five minutes. The analysts could now profile every single person stopped by police in Newton...,

Fusion centers are “focal points” for collecting and sharing intelligence on domestic terrorism; there are 77 of them in the continental US, with six in California. One of the largest is the Joint Regional Intelligence Center (JRIC), a high-tech command center run by and sharing an office building with a bureau of the LA Sheriff’s Department (LASD). The JRIC would quickly become the nucleus of Palantir’s largest network of local law enforcement agencies in the country, covering Los Angeles and six other counties—nearly 40,000 square miles and 18.5 million people. Its databases would ultimately stretch far beyond terrorism, including everything from parking tickets to maps of schools.

Palantir Technologies was founded in 2004 by a group of investors and technologists including its current CEO, Alex Karp, and Peter Thiel, a billionaire who co-founded PayPal and subsequently set up a hedge fund and venture capital firm. The CIA was an early investor in the company through its In-Q-Tel venture fund, and Palantir’s advisors have included Condoleezza Rice and former CIA director George Tenet. Many of Palantir’s early customers were intelligence agencies and information-gathering units of the military...

That history means the company’s operations have always been the opposite of transparent. But as Palantir began to work with Los Angeles and other taxpayer-funded police departments, it had to expose a little more of its inner workings to politicians, oversight boards, and the public.

Palantir’s law enforcement technology is based on its Gotham platform, a system it also sells to businesses and governments to organize and analyze unstructured data like spreadsheets, reports, and emails. (Palantir’s other major platform, Metropolis, is aimed at the financial and investment industries.) A promotional video supplied by the company shows LAPD officers conducting geographical searches of a neighborhood to find crimes reported there, linking those crimes to suspects, seeing mugshots, visualizing networks of gangs, and even using augmented reality of a location during an arrest....

But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Palantir offers access to a universe of digital databases that are typically inaccessible to the general public. Precisely what kinds of information its tools grant access to has been largely unknown until now. ... list of applications and software—most previously unreported—built by Palantir for the JRIC fusion center between 2010 and 2015.

The system launched with the ability for the fusion center “to intake suspicious activity reports from across the many law enforcement agencies in the region, compare them against each other and all sources of intel…and identify links or patterns of suspicious behavior.” The initial build also included instant access to millions of 911 call records, and a list of every officer on duty during every single police shift of every day.
The next year, Palantir added databases of regional crime data, field interviews, explosive-related incidents, and jail visitation records. ...A much bigger change was the integration in 2011 of data from the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS).

CLETS used to be the primary digital tool for many officers in California. It contains criminal records and restraining orders, but also details of cars and drivers from the Department of Motor Vehicles in California and neighboring Oregon. That means that it includes millions of people outside the criminal justice system.

Once the Palantir system had incorporated … [more]
big_data  predictive_policing  smart_cities  urban_data  Palantir 
9 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
Untitled (https://www.wired.com/story/how-peter-thiels-secretive-data-company-pushed-into-policing/)
RT : Just updated my Palantir for police story with a link (at bottom) to a page with many primary documents.
Palantir  from twitter_favs
10 weeks ago by joha04
Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google | World news | The Guardian
Peter Thiel’s CIA-backed, data-mining firm honed its ‘crime predicting’ techniques against insurgents in Iraq. The same methods are now being sold to police departments. Will they inflame already tense relations between the public and the police?
digital-culture  Palantir 
10 weeks ago by PieroRivizzigno
Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google | World news | The Guardian
Palantir, the CIA-backed startup, is Minority Report come true. It is all-powerful, yet no one knows it even exists. Palantir does not have an office, it has a “SCIF” on a back street in Palo Alto, California. SCIF stands for “sensitive compartmentalised information facility”. Palantir says its building “must be built to be resistant to attempts to access the information within. The network must be ‘airgapped’ from the public internet to prevent information leakage.”

Palantir’s defence systems include advanced biometrics and walls impenetrable to radio waves, phone signal or internet. Its data storage is blockchained: it cannot be accessed by merely sophisticated hacking, it requires digital pass codes held by dozens of independent parties, whose identities are themselves protected by blockchain.

What is Palantir protecting? A palantir is a “seeing stone” in JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; a dark orb used by Saruman to be able to see in darkness or blinding light. “Palantir” means “one that sees from afar”, a mythical instrument of omnipotence....

Palantir watches everything you do and predicts what you will do next in order to stop it. As of 2013, its client list included the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Centre for Disease Control, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Up to 50% of its business is with the public sector. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture arm, was an early investor....

Palantir is at the heart of the US government, but with its other arm, Palantir Metropolis, it provides the analytical tools for hedge funds, banks and financial services firms to outsmart each other....

Palantir calls its work with the LAPD “improving situational awareness, and responding to crime in real time”.... Algorithms take in data on the location, time and date of previously committed crimes and this data is superimposed to create hotspots on a map for police officers to patrol. ...

In 2013, TechCrunch obtained a leaked report on the use of Palantir by the LA and Chicago police departments. Sgt Peter Jackson of the LAPD was quoted as saying: “Detectives love the type of information [Palantir] provides. They can now do things that we could not do before.”
algorithms  analytics  big_data  palantir  surveillance  security  media_architecture  data_centers 
11 weeks ago by shannon_mattern
Palantir: the ‘special ops’ tech giant that wields as much real-world power as Google | World news | The Guardian
Data merely becomes a new way of reinforcing old prejudices. Critics of these analytics argue that from the moment a police officer with the pre-crime mindset that you are a criminal steps out of their patrol car to confront you, your fate has been sealed.
palantir  surveillance  bigdata  algorithms  analytics  indie  radar 
11 weeks ago by laurakalbag

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