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. 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.
"Palantir Law Enforcement provides robust, built-in privacy and civil liberties protections, including granular access controls and advanced data retention capabilities," its website reads. Ethereum Is Coding's New Wild West In one of the largest systematic investigations of the company to date, Backchannel filed dozens of public records requests with police forces across America. All 50 states have public records laws providing access to contracts, documents, and emails of local and government bodies. Palantir's software has been deployed by police departments in Los Angeles (LAPD), Long Beach (LBPD), and Burbank; sheriff's departments in Sacramento, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties (LASD); the state's highway patrol; and homeland security "fusion centers" run by local departments in Orange County, San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Diego and Los Angeles.
When a little-known Silicon Valley software startup began vying for national security contracts, it went up against an entrenched bureaucracy and opposition from major contractors skilled in the Washington game. But quickly, Palantir began pulling pages from the defense industry's own playbook -- bulking up on lobbyists, challenging the Pentagon's contracting rules and getting members of Congress to sprinkle favorable language into defense legislation. Seven years later, the secretive firm has landed 1.2 billion worth of federal business, and critics say the legislative favors it has secured will give it a leg up on billions more. Representatives of the firm -- founded by venture capitalist and prominent Donald Trump supporter Peter Thiel -- insist it remains an outsider in a Washington culture deeply wedded to the status quo. But a review of public documents and interviews with key players shows the company is no stranger to Beltway politics and influence.
US tech firm Palantir, known for supplying controversial data-sifting software to government agencies, has fetched a market value of nearly $22bn (£17bn) in its debut on the New York Stock Exchange. It's a lofty figure for a firm that has never turned a profit, been hit by privacy concerns and relies on public agencies for nearly half of its business. But the company, which takes its name from the "seeing stones" known for their power and potential to corrupt in Lord of the Rings, says the need for the kind of software it sells "has never been greater". The firm, which launched in 2003 with backing from right-wing libertarian tech investor Peter Thiel and America's Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), builds programs that integrate massive data sets and spit out connections and patterns in user-friendly formats. The firm - sometimes described as the "scariest" of America's tech giants - got its start working with US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now supplies software to police departments, other public agencies and corporate clients.
Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel reportedly solicited financial assistance from the CIA to help found his secretive firm Palantir, which helped the National Security Agency's controversial domestic surveillance program. Not only did US intelligence agencies help the company financially when it was in its infancy, but it also reportedly collaborated with it in developing software used to gather sensitive information. The software is so advanced that the NSA has bragged that Palantir has helped it make use of its'widest reaching' data mining program that enables the agency to capture'nearly everything a typical user does on the internet.' The revelations were reported on Wednesday by The Intercept. Thiel, who was also a co-founder of PayPal and one of the first to invest in Facebook, has generated headlines in recent months because of his close ties to President Donald Trump.