How Palantir, Peter Thiel’s Secret Data Company, pushed its path into policy

Palantir’s law enforcement technology is based on Gotham, a system the company also sells to businesses and governments to organize and analyze unstructured data such as spreadsheets, reports, and emails. (Palantir’s other major platform, Metropolis, targets the financial and investment industries.) promotional film company-provided shows LAPD officers are conducting a geographic search of a neighborhood to find reported criminals there, linking those crimes with suspects, see photos, Visualize gangster networks and even use the augmented reality of a location while capturing.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Palantir provides access to the digital database universe that is generally inaccessible to the general public. So far it is not known exactly what type of information its tools grant access to. Among the documents our investigation obtained was a contract between Palantir and the LA Sheriff’s Department, signed in March 2016, which details a long list of applications and software – most have not been previously reported – built by Palantir for the JRIC fusion center between 2010 and 2015.

Illustrated by Val Mina

The system launched with the ability for the aggregator to “collect suspicious activity reports from multiple law enforcement agencies in the region, compare them against each other and all intelligence sources … and identify suspicious links or patterns of behavior. ” The original build also included instant access to millions of 911 call records and a list of every officer on duty during each daily police shift.

The following year, Palantir added a database of crime data in the area, field interviews, explosives-related incidents, and prison visit records. These tools work in line with Palantir’s intelligence tools for military and national security customers. A much bigger change was the integration of data from the California Law Enforcement Telecommunication System (CLETS) in 2011.

CLETS used to be the primary digital tool for many officers in California. It includes crime and ban records, but also car and driver details from the Department of Motor Vehicles in California and neighboring Oregon. That means it includes millions outside the criminal justice system.

Once the Palantir system has incorporated the CLETS data, the flood outlets will open. In 2012, Palantir added data from its automatic license plate reader, downloaded California traffic citations, and linked to the FBI database on terror-related reports. Police can soon narrow down search for license plates by area, track prisoners in custody and even track illness through prisons – all from mobile data terminals. in their patrol car.

“We started rejecting other applications in support of Palantir because there is no other system out there [could do] These kinds of important analytical tasks, ”said Lt. Peter Jackson of LASD and JRIC. “But Palantir did, and more.”

Of course, as the police use Palantir increasingly widely, the likelihood of malfunction and abuse will multiply. In February 2013, JRIC was assigned to track down Christopher Dorner, a former LAPD officer who was involved in a series of shootings against law enforcement officers. This effort involves dozens of agencies across the state. “We used Palantir extensively to solve that problem [and] went 24/7 until he was caught or killed, ”Jackson recalls. “We found that these clues were a major challenge.”

Actually, on two separate occasionsThe police shot the trucks mistakenly identified as Dorner’s, injuring 3 civilians. “We said [to Palantir]”We need an application that can span multiple units within an agency … multiple offices in a county … and multiple counties within a state,” Jackson said. “[They developed an application] Based on lessons learned from Dorner. That app, called ClueMan, short for Clue Manager, just came online at JRIC.

Adding this much of this data to Palantir’s system expands the potential for misuse of that information – as the records of other database systems show. With the CLETS system, relatively smaller, users have been charged spying on old partners, snoop on potential days, and even tried leaking details of witnesses to the family of a convicted murderer. California’s CLETS Advisory Committee reports that confirmed abuse cases have increased steadily, reaching 177 in 2016. Palantir puts more data than CLETS into the hands of a broader network of users.

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