Science 6 min read

Edgy Labs Called it: How Trump is Using Palantir to aid ICE

A Katz |

A Katz |

New reports are coming in about a collaboration between the data aggregation giant Palantir Technologies and the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency. Will this new tech lead to solutions, or will it cause more problems?

Here’s a name that’s crossed our mind in recent months: Palantir Technologies Inc.

When we last talked about Palantir we pointed out that it was in a good position to be tapped by the Trump administration, or at least federal agencies during said administration, and apparently, we were right.

Recent news reports show that Palantir is developing software for use by the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE, as it is more commonly known.

The tech company was founded by Peter Thiel, a noted supporter of President Trump, so Palantir has a natural in-road with the administration, and that is on top of their long history of successful Defense contracts. Their new software might be the result of Obama-era administrative decisions, but there is no denying that its use fits in perfectly with Trump’s campaign promises.

At Edgy Labs we recognize that technology is a tool, and that it is not inherently good or evil.

In every case, a person will determine how to use that tool. It is our job merely to tell you about technologies on the bleeding edge.

Do form some opinions, however, because this has to do with how Big Data is handled. The more people discuss these undefined areas of technology’s advancement the more likely everyone is to shed some light on them; just leave your comments below.

Let’s start by applying a keen eye on who Palantir Technologies are, what they do, and who they do it for.

Who is Palantir, Anyways?

Palantir Technologies Inc. is a company that offers Big Data aggregation and analysis services.

They are based in Palo Alto, California, and their two flagship products include Palantir Gotham, a counter-terrorism analysis app that is used by the Intelligence and Defense communities, and Palantir Metropolis, which helps financial institutions detect and investigate fraud.

Big Data analysis is a huge ticket in the Industry 4.0 marketplace, so Palantir offers something that everyone needs, making them worth every penny of their estimated $20 billion USD plus value.

Palantir has a long history with defense contracts, especially with the CIA, since they were responsible for giving the analysis company their big break. That being said, much of their estimated value comes from business done outside of the various defense contracts that the company secures.

Palantir will aid ICE and Trump's illegal immigration policies.Click To Tweet

In fact, unlike other Defense contractors that are technically private but seemingly exist to serve government entities, Palantir’s most valuable clients are not offshoots of the defense department or armed forces. The company was founded with a hefty sum of CIA funds and is increasingly servicing defense contracts, but it also serves the healthcare and insurance industries, among others.

For the last half a century or more, military contracts and funding have provided the incentive for some of the greatest game-changing technologies we have, like the internet and drones, and Palantir aims to change that model.

Instead of being the sole source of innovation, The military is just another customer. Palantir even sued the Army and won last year, arguing that the bidding process for contractors was stifling innovation by continuing to fund initiatives that aren’t efficient.

So, at the end of the day, Palantir is an extremely valuable company with a past in Defense contracts and a present with that and more.

They may not strictly need the government contracts, but there is little doubt that they those contracts help them to develop and utilize new data analysis technologies for civilian use. One might point out their expertise could be used on civilians. To my next point: what is Palantir going to do for ICE?

Trump, Palantir, and ICE

Before we get too deep into Palantir’s new software suite, let’s talk about one of its founders, Peter Thiel.

Thiel is the Chairman of Palantir, and he is what you would call a power-executive. He holds many titles that contain ‘president’, ‘chairman’, and ‘board member’, and is considered by many to be a leading voice in the technology sector.

Also, Thiel is an avid Trump supporter, so it is natural that he would jump at the chance to develop technology that can help President Trump attain his goals. Of course, if you didn’t know Trump’s position on illegal immigration, suffice it to say that he is not a fan. With those things combined, Palantir can do a lot for ICE under the Trump administration.

ICE is responsible for the investigation and deportation of illegal immigrants, and as you might imagine, data analysis can have a huge role in the investigation process.

Palantir’s new software suite, called Investigative Case Management (ICM), fills that role by collecting information from agencies such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. By cross-referencing the data from so many various entities, ICM is able to provide agents with a staggering amount of info which allows agents to make a profile that includes a suspect’s job, criminal record, and even their biometric info (provided they are on file somewhere).

The tools that ICE will be using aren’t exactly new. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have been using them since the Obama administration.

The difference is in the intent of the users. Whereas DHS intends to use ICM in a way that keeps citizens safe and secure, ICE will be using it to profile people suspected of illegally crossing the border.

That distinction is something that many are not happy with, including Chris Conley of the American Civil Liberties Union who claims that ICE could use this tool to “try to turn some of [Trump’s] rhetoric around mass deportations into reality.”

Adding to those concerns is another service that Palantir can provide for ICE: the Analytical Framework for Intelligence, or AFI. The AFI is basically a system of profiling software that, when combined with ICE’s Falcon database, could become a part of the extreme vetting process that Trump has promised.

Whether the ICM software will lead to mass deportations or not remains to be seen, but you can rest assured that we’ll be keeping a keen eye on this story. After all, Palantir is one of the biggest names in Big Data, so if we want to keep you informed on the latest in data analysis, Palantir is the company to watch.

And while we’re busy watching Palantir, don’t forget to give us your opinion on this new frontier for the ICM software suite.

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William McKinney

William is an English teacher, a card carrying nerd, And he may run for president in 2020. #truefact #voteforedgy

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