Category Archives: Palantir

Palantir® and NYPD face off over data and deliverables disputes

The shine is most definitely coming off the Palantir® Technologies brand in law enforcement and investigative agencies. Here’s a link to a fascinating story about NYPD and Palantir, and how the former is kicking the latter to the curb. The power that Palantir has over its customers is down-right frightening.

Fear not, Palantir clients… Something big is happening HERE!

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China building big data platform for pre-crime

Re-posted by Crime Tech Solutions – Your Source for Investigation Software

It’s “precrime” meets “thoughtcrime.” China is using its substantial surveillance apparatus as the basis for a “unified information environment” that will allow authorities to profile individual citizens based upon their online behaviors, financial transactions, where they go, and who they see. The authorities are watching for deviations from the norm that might indicate someone is involved in suspicious activity. And they’re doing it with a hand from technology pioneered in the US.

Tiananmen_Square_Beijing_China_1988_1-640x447As Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports, the Chinese government is leveraging “predictive policing” capabilities that have been used by US law enforcement, and it has funded research into machine learning and other artificial intelligence technologies to identify human faces in surveillance video. The Chinese government has also used this technology to create a “Situation-Aware Public Security Evaluation (SAPE) platform” that predicts “security events” based on surveillance data, which includes anything from actual terrorist attacks to large gatherings of people.

The Chinese government has plenty of data to feed into such systems. China invested heavily in building its surveillance capabilities in major cities over the past five years, with spending on “domestic security and stability” surpassing China’s defense budget—and turning the country into the biggest market for security technology. And in December, China’s government gained a new tool in surveillance: anti-terrorism laws giving the government even more surveillance powers and requiring any technology companies doing business in China to provide assistance in that surveillance.

The law states that companies “shall provide technical interfaces, decryption and other technical support and assistance to public security and state security agencies when they are following the law to avert and investigate terrorist activities”—in other words, the sort of “golden key” that FBI Director James Comey has lobbied for in the US. For obvious reasons, the Chinese government is particularly interested in the outcome of the current legal confrontation between the FBI and Apple over the iPhone used by Syed Farook.

Bloomberg reports that China is harnessing all that data in an effort to perform behavioral prediction at an individual level—tasking the state-owned defense contractor China Electronics Technology Group to develop software that can sift through the online activities, financial transactions, work data, and other behavioral data of citizens to predict which will perform “terrorist” acts. The system could watch for unexpected transfers of money, calls overseas by individuals with no relatives outside the country, and other trigger events that might indicate they were plotting an illegal action. China’s definition of “terrorism” is more expansive than that of many countries.

At a news conference in December, China Electronics Technology Group Chief Engineer Wu Manqing told reporters, “We don’t call it a big data platform, but a united information environment… It’s very crucial to examine the cause after an act of terror, but what is more important is to predict the upcoming activities.”

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(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, comprehensive crime analytics with mapping and predictive policing, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)

Is the Most Dangerous Company in America?

Posted by Tyler Wood, Operations Manager at Crime Tech Solutions

ciaThis is a very interesting read about the current big data analytics darling, Palantir Technologies. The article from GS Early appears on the Personal Liberty website HERE.

The original article follows…

I was reading my newsfeeds and I came across a very interesting story about this highly secretive company that is apparently buying up as much Palo Alto, California real estate as it can get its hands on.

But that isn’t even the most interesting thing about them. What piques my interest is how this start-up that just added another $450 million to its funding — it now has about $20 billion in funding — got its money.

The company is called Palantir Technologies. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from JRR Tolkein’s trilogy of fantasy novels. In The Fellowship of the Ring, Saruman the wizard uses the Palantir of Orthanc, an indestructible sphere of dark crystal, to see into the future and communicate across the world.

That sounds geeky and innocuous enough, no?

But Palantir the company’s biggest clients are the FBI, SEC and the CIA. It is a Big Data company that also has corporate clients, but much of the work — from what anyone can tell — comes from hush-hush projects for the U.S. intelligence community.

This crystal ball of a company sounds less like a quaint fantasy than a key element of the “thought police” in Philip K. Dick’s dark science fiction tale “The Minority Report.”

In “The Minority Report,” the police used computers to predict when and where a crime would occur and apprehend the perpetrator before he actually committed the crime.

The crazy thing is, we’re now living in a world where Big Data makes that possible.

First, let me explain what Big Data is. Basically, now that our lives are completely recorded in various media — traffic cameras, debit card transactions, loyalty cards, phone calls, television shows watched, internet, social media, SMS texts, etc. — computers are powerful enough now to sort through all this data from all these sources and come up with predictive patterns for individuals and groups.

This is a very hot area for retail stores. But it also has enormous implications in a variety of industries; and many of them are helpful.

It is certainly a tool that law enforcement and our intelligence services would find valuable to root out potential terrorists or groups that are planning some terrorist act. It is also useful to find people who are attempting to elude authorities. And being able to get ahead of the some of the more devious players on Wall Street and their illegal trading schemes would be nice.

But you can see where this could be turned on Americans, just as easily as the NSA turned its endeavors on to less than righteous paths.

Palantir is raising eyebrows in the epicenter of digital startups because most companies, once they reach a certain size, move out of Palo Alto and build a campus in some surrounding town.

Not Palantir. It now owns about 10-15 percent of all the available space in Palo Alto, more than 250,000 square feet. It is the fourth most valuable venture backed company in the world.

The irony in the article was, the concern wasn’t about its biggest client or what it’s doing for the CIA, it was the fact that it’s eating up all the available commercial space in Palo Alto and not leaving room for new startups.

My concern is a bit deeper. The CIA could have quietly gone to one of the major Big Data firms like Accenture or IBM and worked with them on whatever it is they needed. But instead they essentially built their own company, where there are much fewer people to throw up roadblocks to the work being done. I have no problem with government using Big Data to protect us; my concern is when intelligence and enforcement agencies have unfettered use of it.

But, there’s no turning back the clock. We are in the Big Data, cybersecurity age and plenty of these companies already exist. Usually their goal is help their clients sell more lavender soap in February or figure out what kind of salad greens a 37-year-old mother of two prefers to buy at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday evening.

On a fundamental level, it’s best to keep your digital footprint light. Make sure you have secure passwords that aren’t just 1234 or your pet’s name. Most browsers have an “incognito” mode that won’t track your browser history. But truth be told, if someone really wants your history, they can get it.

If you’re more serious about hiding your footprints, look into encrypted services like Tor (www.torproject.com) that will protect against traffic analysis (browser history, instant messaging, etc.). It’s free and very good.

Transactions in bitcoins is a way to keep your footprint light in the marketplace.

And if you’re looking to make money on the trend, there are any number of companies that are at the forefront of cybersecurity (Palo Alto Networks, FireEye, Synamtec) and Big Data (Accenture, IBM, Teradata, Oracle).

–GS Early

(NOTE: Crime Tech Solutions is an Austin, TX based provider of crime and fraud analytics software for commercial and law enforcement groups. We proudly support the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), Association of Law Enforcement Intelligence Units (LEIU) and International Association of Crime Analysts (IACA). Our offerings include sophisticated link analysis software, comprehensive crime mapping and predictive policing, and criminal intelligence database management systems.)