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Palantir Knows Everything About You


Peter Thiel's data-mining company is using War on Terror tools to track American citizens. The scary thing? Palantir is desperate for new customers.
By Peter Waldman, Lizette Chapman, and Jordan Robertson
April 19, 2018

High above the Hudson River in downtown Jersey City, a former U.S. Secret Service agent named Peter Cavicchia III ran special ops for JPMorgan Chase & Co. His insider threat group—most large financial institutions have one—used computer algorithms to monitor the bank's employees, ostensibly to protect against perfidious traders and other miscreants.

Aided by as many as 120 "forward-deployed engineers" from the data mining company Palantir Technologies Inc., which JPMorgan engaged in 2009, Cavicchia's group vacuumed up emails and browser histories, GPS locations from company-issued smartphones, printer and download activity, and transcripts of digitally recorded phone conversations. Palantir's software aggregated, searched, sorted, and analyzed these records, surfacing keywords and patterns of behavior that Cavicchia's team had flagged for potential abuse of corporate assets. Palantir's algorithm, for example, alerted the insider threat team when an employee started badging into work later than usual, a sign of potential disgruntlement. That would trigger further scrutiny and possibly physical surveillance after hours by bank security personnel.
Businessweek cover
Featured in Bloomberg Businessweek, April 23, 2018. Subscribe now.

Over time, however, Cavicchia himself went rogue. Former JPMorgan colleagues describe the environment as Wall Street meets Apocalypse Now, with Cavicchia as Colonel Kurtz, ensconced upriver in his office suite eight floors above the rest of the bank's security team. People in the department were shocked that no one from the bank or Palantir set any real limits. They darkly joked that Cavicchia was listening to their calls, reading their emails, watching them come and go. Some planted fake information in their communications to see if Cavicchia would mention it at meetings, which he did.

It all ended when the bank's senior executives learned that they, too, were being watched, and what began as a promising marriage of masters of big data and global finance descended into a spying scandal. The misadventure, which has never been reported, also marked an ominous turn for Palantir, one of the most richly valued startups in Silicon Valley. An intelligence platform designed for the global War on Terror was weaponized against ordinary Americans at home.

Founded in 2004 by Peter Thiel and some fellow PayPal alumni, Palantir cut its teeth working for the Pentagon and the CIA in Afghanistan and Iraq. The company's engineers and products don't do any spying themselves; they're more like a spy's brain, collecting and analyzing information that's fed in from the hands, eyes, nose, and ears. The software combs through disparate data sources—financial documents, airline reservations, cellphone records, social media postings—and searches for connections that human analysts might miss. It then presents the linkages in colorful, easy-to-interpret graphics that look like spider webs. U.S. spies and special forces loved it immediately; they deployed Palantir to synthesize and sort the blizzard of battlefield intelligence. It helped planners avoid roadside bombs, track insurgents for assassination, even hunt down Osama bin Laden. The military success led to federal contracts on the civilian side. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services uses Palantir to detect Medicare fraud. The FBI uses it in criminal probes. The Department of Homeland Security deploys it to screen air travelers and keep tabs on immigrants.

More at the link --->  https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2018-palantir-peter-thiel/

Last Edit by Gladstone


300 Californian Cities Secretly Have Access to Palantir

Company contracts with a fusion center reveal that nearly 8 million people in northern California are subject to Palantir surveillance tools, a Motherboard investigation finds.
by Caroline Haskins

Palantir, a surveillance and data mining company founded by right-wing billionaire Peter Thiel, is best known for being a contractor for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, other state and federal agencies, and corporations like JP Morgan and Airbus. The company created ICE's Investigative Case Management system, which catalogs migrants in U.S. detention, which helps to build records that can be used against migrants in court.

As reported by Bloomberg last year, the police departments for New York, New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angeles also use Palantir's software to create "digital dragnets" of individual people in an attempt to predict crime before it happens.

Motherboard obtained documents via public record requests which reveal that the scope of Palantir's influence in California is significantly larger than previously documented. Payment records indicate that between January 2012 and March 2017, about three hundred cities, collectively home to about 7.9 million people, had access to Palantir's Gotham service through the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), which is run through the Department of Homeland Security.

The NCRIC is a regional law enforcement facility that combines the resources of 14 California counties: Del Norte county, Mendocino county, Sonoma county, Lake county, Napa county, Marin county, San Francisco county, San Mateo county, Santa Cruz county, Monterey county, San Benito county, Santa Clara county, Alameda county, and Contra Costa county.

Gotham is one of Palantir's two services, and the other service is Palantir Foundry. These 300 police departments could request data from Palantir, and an NCRIC agent would retrieve this data and provide it to local police. Per this arrangement, none of these departments have to disclose the fact that they have access to Palantir.

More at the link ---> https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/neapqg/300-californian-cities-secretly-have-access-to-palantir

Last Edit by Gladstone


Palantir Awarded $144M Navy BPA for Hardware, Software


The Naval Information Warfare Center, Pacific, awarded the BPA through the Pentagon's Enterprise Software Initiative and will obligate the department's operations and maintenance funds upon award of delivery orders.


QuotePalantir Technologies, Palo Alto, California, is being awarded a $27,640,000 fixed-price blanket purchase agreement under the Department of Defense (DoD) Enterprise Software Initiative to provide commercial-off-the-shelf hardware, software and services for DoD, the Intelligence community and the Coast Guard. This one-year agreement includes four, one-year option periods, which if exercised, would bring the potential value of this agreement to an estimated $143,800,000 million. The ordering period of the base agreement will be from July 12, 2019, through July 11, 2020. If all options are exercised, the ordering period will extend through July 11, 2024. No funds will be obligated at the time of award. Funds will be obligated at the delivery order level using operations and maintenance (DoD) funds. This agreement was non-competitively procured with a brand name justification in accordance with Federal Acquisition Regulation 8.405-6 via a limited source solicitation and publication on the General Services Administration eBuy web site. Naval Information Warfare Center, Pacific, is the contracting activity (N66001-19-A-0044).

Last Edit by Gladstone


It is laughable that the media calls CIA funded intelligence companies "startups".  It is finally coming more obvious to the public that Silicon Valley corporations are nothing more than private intelligence agencies funded by the US government.


Peter Thiel's stealth start-up Palantir has unlocked a new opportunity to sell to the US military as revenue tops $1 billion


Palantir — the Silicon Valley data analytics company co-founded by PayPal founder and Trump advisor Peter Thiel — has made the CNBC Disruptor 50 list for six years running. But this year was perhaps the most disruptive of all for the company, which has attracted $2.8 billion in funding, raising its valuation to $20.5 billion, according to PitchBook.

In 2019, Palantir was able to leverage a favorable landmark 2017 court decision to break through government contracting barriers that formerly kept the firm out of the running for some of the Pentagon's most lucrative contracts.

Palantir, ranking No. 34 on the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 list, is expected to build and upgrade an Army intelligence system known as DCGS-A for $800 million. Palantir beat out Raytheon, a defense industrial mainstay, for the contract, raising its profile in D.C. to a new level. Announced in March, the contract makes Palantir a "defense program of record," a critical designation for government contracting.

Behind the scenes, Palantir had fought for years in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims to gain access to this designation. The Army had specifically requested Palantir as far back as 2011, but because of contracting rules, couldn't get it. Palantir said in its court filing that one Army unit had tried repeatedly and failed to get Palantir to use in high-risk operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Now that the company has proved it can fight hard for and win contracts in the deeply entrenched government space, it opens other important doors as Palantir approaches a possible 2019 IPO.
Straddling the line between DC and Silicon Valley

Palantir has both suffered and benefited from a reputation as "highly secretive," a throwback to its roots as a company initially funded by the CIA's In-Q-Tel venture capital organization.

More at the link ---> https://www.cnbc.com/2019/05/15/palantir-unlocks-a-new-opportunity-to-sell-to-us-military-ahead-of-ipo.html

Last Edit by Gladstone


Army names Silicon Valley's data mining company Palantir to lead battlefield intelligence

As DoD goes digital, Palantir adds defense contracting to its resume
Written by Beryl Lipton


Palantir, a data mining startup based in Silicon Valley, will be handling initial delivery of the U.S. Army's battlefield intelligence network, the Pentagon confirmed earlier this year, positioning the company to influence the Army's long-term implementation of its artificial intelligence priorities.

Part of a military-wide intelligence sharing platform, the Distributed Common Ground System is comprised of commercial, government, and open source components, a "system of systems" to facilitate centralization, analysis, and dissemination of the military's data across each of its branches. The recent award to Palantir for redesigning the Army's portion, known as DCGS-A, could be worth more than $800 million over the next 10 years and will be active in every region the Army operates in. This award is one of the first military awards of its size to go to a technology startup, which bid against veteran defense contractor Raytheon for the solicitation.

As the Department of Defense emphasizes real-time data analysis as part of its strategy, software companies are seeing opportunities to vie for big-ticket government contracts and fighting in court for the right to pursue them. Palantir challenged the Army's original procurement order, which it argued should be broken into multiple work orders; the Government Accountability Office disagreed, but the Federal Court of Claims decided the Army's procurement design was flawed. A similar battle is currently playing out regarding the Pentagon's $10 billion single source contract for a cloud computing service.

Palantir currently holds contracts with a number of federal agencies, including at the Department of Health and Human Services and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has inspired online protests from some of its employees.

Though there isn't explicit mention of artificial intelligence in the solicitation, which was first released in 2015, the system will likely figure into future Army attempts to integrate AI into any of its intelligence systems.

For over a year, the Department of Defense has discussed the need to prioritize integration of AI into its operations. During his time in the Trump Administration, former Secretary of Defense General James Mattis introduced in the National Defense Strategy a formal emphasis on AI as crucial to national security, urging President Trump to consider a national AI strategy. The DoD announced in June 2018 that it would be launching a Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to coordinate the development and implementation of AI technologies across the military's branches. In February, Trump signed an executive order, prioritizing the development of AI across the government, followed the next day by the release of the DoD's own AI strategy. The Fiscal Year 2020 budget asks for $220 million to expand the JAIC's operations.

More at the link -->  https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2019/may/30/army-palantir-government-contracting/

Last Edit by Gladstone


How Palantir Could Become the Breakout IPO Star of 2019


While Wall Street focuses on the initial public offerings of companies like Uber Technologies, Lyft and Slack, one less-hyped public debut may emerge as a star of the IPO world. Palantir, a Silicon Valley data analytics startup co-founded by venture capitalist and serial entrepreneur Peter Thiel, is valued at $20 billion and may be positioned for massive growth as it builds momentum in its niche market. The sixteen-year-old company, which provides tools for visualizing and making use of massive data sets with its proprietary software, is considering an IPO this year, according to several publications. Palantir could be looking at a valuation north of $41 billion as early as this year, per Business Insider.

Now, Palantir's value and outlook is set to soar on news that the company just won a U.S. military contract for worth up to $800 million, the first time the venture-backed firm has been named a "defense program of record," as detailed by CNBC. Programs of record are a title for the largest, most sought-after multi-year projects awarded by the Pentagon.

More at the link --->  https://www.investopedia.com/how-palantir-could-become-the-breakout-ipo-star-of-2019-4590142

Last Edit by Gladstone


Palantir Stops Mocking Salespeople and Starts Hiring Them


QuoteSome of the new hires have been top salespeople at major American companies like Oracle Corp. and International Business Machines Corp. And additional hiring is underway: more than five dozen global positions with "business development" or "leverage" in their titles are now listed on the company's website. Those positions, said several people, often perform functions that are typically handled by sales teams, despite the absence of "sales" in their titles and job descriptions.

The product that most of the new employees are selling is called Foundry, data analytics software aimed at large corporate clients. Current Foundry customers include Morgan Stanley, which uses it to deter insider trading; Merck KGaA, which uses it to speed drug discovery; and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which uses it to identify faults in its cars before they cause problems.

Foundry, and its predecessor Metropolis, performs the same type of big data analysis Palantir's Gotham does for government groups -- helping users sift through troves of data to mine for patterns and specific information. Compared to Metropolis, though, Foundry requires less customization and far fewer engineers, resulting in a potentially lower cost to customers and fatter margins for Palantir.

Foundry took years to develop and is now one of just two products Palantir offers. The other is Gotham, used by federal, state and local agencies and nonprofits around the world. But by pouring resources into Foundry, the company has signaled a change of priorities, moving beyond a focus on government work, toward more seriously pursuing the larger and potentially more lucrative corporate market.

Last Edit by Gladstone


Remember Both Peter Thiel and Jared Kushner attended Bilderberg this year.


Donald Trump Has Made Peter Thiel "Immensely Powerful"

How the Silicon Valley billionaire became Trump's "shadow president."
By Maya Kosoff
February 27, 2017


QuoteThiel has been using his power primarily to help staff the Trump administration, vetting candidates to lead the Federal Trade Commission and helping elevate associates from his investment firms to serve in the Department of Commerce, the Pentagon, and even the National Security Council. Another Thiel ally, Yale computer scientist David Gelernter, also won an audience with the president to potentially serve as his science adviser. Back in San Francisco, Thiel's employees have reportedly begun referring to their boss as "the shadow president."

QuoteMore worrisome than Thiel's influence over staffing are his unusual views on the relationship between science and society. While the presence of a technologist in Trump's inner circle should be welcome, Thiel's brand of techno-futurism often tends toward the apocalyptic, with the billionaire advocating less regulation and oversight to allow experimental developments to advance unrestrained. Like many in Silicon Valley, Thiel subscribes to the idea that one must "move fast and break things" to move forward, and worry about the consequences later. Technological progress, he argues in his book Zero to One, has stalled in part because the federal government has grown too big, and entitlement programs too generous. He has encouraged promising college students to drop out of school to found start-ups and is a leading proponent of seasteading: building floating libertarian islands in international waters that would serve as experiments in life free of government control. Thiel also has a well-documented obsession with life-extension technologies, including extending his own lifespan with blood transfusions from young people. On Bloomberg TV in 2014, Thiel explained that he was taking human-growth hormone pills as part of his plan to live 120 years. "It helps maintain muscle mass, so you're much less likely to get bone injuries, arthritis," he said.

At the same time, Thiel is grounded enough to know who in Trump's administration to befriend to move closer to the levers of power. "Thiel is immensely powerful within the administration through his connection to Jared [Kushner]," a senior Trump campaign aide told Politico. As much as Thiel professes to despise politics, he clearly knows how to play the game.

Last Edit by Gladstone


While we are focusing on Google, it looks like Palantir will have a large part in ensuring this planet in a global surveillance gulag.


What are the main differences between the Palantir Metropolis and Gotham platforms?


Mark Elliot
Mark Elliot, CTO Commercial at Palantir Technologies

QuotePalantir Gotham is a platform for "needle-in-haystack" analysis. It's used primarily by government agencies that look for bad actors hiding in complex networks: terrorist cells, trafficking rings, money laundering schemes, vectors of foodborne illness, and so forth. These organizations use Gotham to bring their data sources and systems together, map the data to a common model, and analyze it in one place.

When my friends and family ask me to explain Gotham, I tell them to think about your typical TV detective drama — there's inevitably a scene where they've put everything they know on a bulletin board and connected it with pins and string. Now imagine a digital version of that where you can also be really rigorous about the sources of each piece of information, when the information was last updated, and tightly control who has access to that information — all while expanding collaboration on that bulletin board across the organization. We also get the benefit of rich audit signal and use it to detect any sort of misuse (more on that here).

QuoteFoundry started as our attempt to create scalable process and rigor around data integration. There's a longer story to tell here, but the short version is that we started out with off-the-shelf orchestration systems for running jobs on a schedule (think Jenkins and Rundeck — things that were more robust than cron). At some level, that worked, and we had to figure out how to scale it, leading to a combination of HDFS, Rundeck/Jenkins, a git repo, and a common language for mutating data.

But this was a precarious setup. It didn't give us the flexibility we needed to answer questions about where information came from (how did data and code correspond?). It was hard to run jobs in the right order, and easy to overwrite data. But it worked. And it was appealing to our customers, who saw our engineers using this toolkit they'd built to bootstrap our own data integration, and started asking if their engineers could use it.

We knew we had built something valuable, with a very broad market. But there were some fundamental issues we needed to fix. Deprecating Metropolis let us double down on solving these problems. We focused on:

Versioning. Foundry explicitly tracks future state, independent of (and in addition to) past state. You can branch out to apply different versions of code against the same chunk of data and track, for each version of the data, which version of the code was used to create it. So you can understand what you knew at a point in time, and how the data has evolved since.

Branching. Building a more explicit orchestration system, and cleaned up the general idea of the "pipeline." Instead of a system that just moves data from point A to point G, we built a system that lets you move data from point A to point G, then look back at point F and say "Hey, that was interesting. Let's try some different, random variation, but make sure A-G is still happening." Work is safe by default, and you have the freedom to test novel ideas without impacting other users.

Truly "democratizing" data. Creating a front end that empowers a very broad range of users to engage with data. We wanted people to be able to explore and adapt all the data they could access, in ways that are typically limited to very technical users. Today, Foundry is a platform that provides universal, secure access to all of an organization's content, for decision makers at every level, from the factory floor to the executive office.

Another thing we realized as our commercial work expanded was that data suffers from diseconomies of scale: the more there is, the harder it is to actually use it. So as companies generate more data, they have an increasingly hard time using it on demand. And this problem compounds across roles and functions. These companies are complex in many ways — technology landscapes, org structures, shifting strategies, etc. — and they need to cut through that complexity to be nimble in a changing world.

With that in mind, we built Foundry to create data-driven loops: use data to make a decision, then use data to assess its impact, in lockstep with all of your colleagues and collaborators. Foundry maintains provenance and attribution so people can trust what they discover and learn, and meets users where they are so everyone can bring data into their daily work. Imagine a manufacturing giant where data scientists, quality analysts, assembly line workers, and executives use data as their lingua franca. That level of collaboration was a galvanizing force in building out Foundry.

Collaboration is also why it was so critical to get the version control piece right — we knew that was key to engendering trust in data. It was also critical that we get security right, and fortunately we had a lot of knowledge to draw on from building Gotham. Many of the factors that complicate broadening access to data in the government are at play in multinational corporations, too. One of Gotham's key components is a form of Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC). Gotham does this at huge scale, with very complex attribute relationships, so we knew how to think conceptually about implementing this for Foundry as well.

Last Edit by Gladstone


History repeats itself.


Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet

Last Edit by Gladstone


Everything you need to know about Palantir, the secretive company coming for all your data


QuotePalantir specializes in data-gathering and analysis, most of which it does for government agencies. It has about $1.5 billion in federal government contracts alone, including, recently, with the Space Force and the Navy. Now, as new Covid-19 case numbers break records daily, Palantir is trying to help organize the information with a new platform called HHS Protect, which will be run by another private company called TeleTracking. This partnership has effectively replaced the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Healthcare Safety Network, per the Trump administration's orders to hospitals to stop reporting their information to it. HHS Protect, which is not accessible to the general public, is now the only source for this information.

"Today, the CDC still has at least a week lag in reporting hospital data," Michael Caputo, assistant secretary of the HHS for public affairs, told the New York Times. "America requires it in real time. The new, faster, and complete data system is what our nation needs to defeat the coronavirus."

Palantir, the architect of this complete data system, isn't a household name like its Palo Alto peers, but the 17-year-old company founded by Peter Thiel is one of the most valuable private companies in Silicon Valley. That anonymity is a feature, not a bug: Palantir does most of its work for the government, including national security and intelligence operations. In recent years, headlines about the company have stressed its access to everything about all of us, which privacy advocates have long criticized. Palantir's data-mining software has been credited with killing Osama bin Laden (a claim that has never been confirmed) and blamed for tearing undocumented immigrant families apart.

Now, the notoriously secretive surveillance startup that the White House is entrusting with the nation's coronavirus data is about to go public.

QuotePalantir's work with various police departments across the country has also brought renewed scrutiny to the company, especially in light of recent protests against police brutality. Palantir's software powers the Los Angeles Police Department's predictive crime program, called Operation LASER, which tries to identify and target potential criminals for increased surveillance. The program ended in 2019 amid doubts that predictive policing was an effective crime deterrent, as well as criticism from civil rights organizations that it unfairly targeted minority communities. It's hard to get exact numbers on how many police departments Palantir has contracts with, but New Orleans's and New York's police departments are known customers, and Palantir boasts on its website of its work with the Salt Lake City police department.

Last Edit by Gladstone