Palantir’s technology was developed in warzones like Fallujah, where it was used to anticipate roadside bombs and attacks by insurgents. Now, it’s being used on the streets of Los Angeles to root out criminals like something straight out of the movie “Minority Report.”
Unsurprisingly, the privately-held tech firm is backed by the CIA’s venture-capital arm. Now, the company has gathered massive amounts of data on the American populace, which it farms out to police departments, who use it to track down criminals before they strike.
But the company’s technology isn’t only used to track down common street thugs. It’s also used to track and anticipate the crimes of white collar fraudsters like Bernie Madoff.
Little is known about the company, which, unlike most tech startups, has no plans to go public. In 2013, CEO Alex Karp, Palantir’s CEO, explained that “running a company like ours would be very difficult” if it was exposed to the scrutiny that comes with being a public company.
In other words, if the public became aware of what Palantir is doing, the backlash might dwarf the data privacy scandals that have roiled Silicon Valley in recent years.
Tom Cruise in the film ‘Minority Report’
As of 2013, Palantir’s client list includes the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Roughly half of the company’s business is with the government. Q-Tel, the CIA’s VC arm, was one of the company’s earliest investors. The company, which doesn’t have an office, uses blockchain technology to protect its tools from sophisticated hackers.
Samuel Reading, a former marine who has worked in Afghanistan for NEK Advanced Securities Group, a US military contractor, has said: “It’s the combination of every analytical tool you could ever dream of. You will know every single bad guy in your area.”
Here’s more from a Guardian report about the company:
Military-grade surveillance technology has now migrated from Fallujah to the suburban neighbourhoods of LA. Predictive policing is being used on illegal drivers and petty criminals through a redeployment of techniques and algorithms used by the US army dealing with insurgents in Iraq and with civilian casualty patterns.