One Year Ago — CIA PALANTIR Sues Early Investor

“[Since 2013] U.S. spy agencies also employ Palantir to connect databases across departments. Before this, most of the databases used by the CIA and FBI were siloed, forcing users to search each database individually. Now everything is linked together using Palantir.”

TechCrunch — January 2015

Alexander Karp: American billionaire businessman, co-founder and CEO of the software firm Palantir Technologies.

Alexander Karp: American billionaire businessman, co-founder and CEO of the software firm Palantir Technologies.

In the filing with the Superior Court of the State of California, the company alleges that early Palantir investor Marc L. Abramowitz “ stole … secrets, engaged in methodical deception of Palantir’ s senior executives, and made false claims to the United States Patent and Trademark Office.” Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_TODAY

UPDATE — In March 2017,  a California federal judge ruled that the trade secrets theft suit from analytics firm Palantir Technologies Inc. against a former adviser belongs in state court, saying the issues in the case don’t touch federal law. [LAW360]

Today, many people in the US IC and law enforcement authorities regard PALANTIR’s database software as the eighth wonder of the world. But, to a few old folks, it looks very much like the Gestapo’s IBM punch cards on steroid. If American people allow this company to keep operating under the radar and without oversight, they will one day wake up to a true nightmare.

When the Nazis invaded Poland, IBM New York established a special new subsidiary called Watson Business Machines, after its then- president, Thomas Watson. IBM’s new Polish company’s sole purpose was to service the Nazi occupation during the rape of Poland. Watson Business Machines even operated a punch-card printing shop over the street from the Warsaw Ghetto. [Guardian]

A recent piece by WIRED [How Peter Thiel’s Secretive Data Company Pushed Into Policing] has lift a tiny corner of the veil and the bits we can see do not look pretty. The article concludes:

The avalanche of personal data means that individuals themselves now carry digital labels that may be impossible to escape. Once people are labelled as chronic offenders, they will receive additional police attention.

This raises the chance that they will be stopped for minor infractions that might be overlooked in others, especially outside the hotspot zones.

A lot of this data is garbage. People end up getting over-investigated because …information in these databases is false or misleading. There isn’t a way for people to… get the bad information out, or put their own side of the story in.

There is growing awareness that uniquely powerful technologies like Palantir’s require special supervision and oversight. (…)

Working under the radar has been good for Palantir. Working under a spotlight could turn out to be both less comfortable and less profitable. But the public sector works for the people, not Palantir.

Recently, the French DGSI announced that they would rely on Palantir data mining tools. How stupid is that choice? Time will tell… END of UPDATE

RELATED STORY: In-Q-Tel: Like Father, Like Son

RELATED STORY: Is the CIA behind FACEBOOK?

RELATED STORY: DGSI Lacks Big Data Mining Tools, Turns to PALANTIR For Help

Palantir Technologies

Palantir Technologies, Inc. is a private American software and services company, specializing in big data analysis.

Founded in 2004, Palantir’ s original clients were federal agencies of the United States Intelligence Community (USIC). In-Q-Tel, the venture arm of the CIA, funded the project right from the start with 2 US$ million.

Palantir developed its technology by computer scientists and analysts from intelligence agencies over three years, through pilots facilitated by In-Q-Tel.

The software concept grew out of technology developed at PayPal to detect fraudulent activity, much of it conducted by Russian organized crime syndicates.

The company said computers alone using artificial intelligence could not defeat an adaptive adversary.

Palantir proposed using human analysts to explore data from many sources, called intelligence augmentation. [WIKIPEDIA]

“Save the Shire.”

“The suit gives us a some insight into Palantir, one of the most secretive companies in the Valley, and the many ways it is selling its data sifting tech.”

The company alleges that three of Abramowitz’s patent applications, filed in 2015, were ideas that came from Palantir. One of them is for a patent that covers big data analysis for the oil and gas industry; one is a patent to cover big data analysis for medical clinical trials, and the third is for the cyber security rating for buying insurance to cover hack attacks. (…)

The strangest part: The company is alleging that the investor tried to trademark the word “Shire.” The company’s name is a reference from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien, where, in that tale, the hero’s home is referred to as the “Shire.” Palantir does big data analysis for many government agencies and law enforcement and Palantir’ s motto is “Save the Shire.”

IBM i2 vs Palantir

The complaint is not without irony. i2 Limited was the UK-based arm of software company i2 Group which produced visual intelligence and investigative analysis software for military intelligence, law enforcement and commercial agencies. [WIKIPEDIA]

In 2011 it became part of IBM and the company asserted that:

Palantir Technologies improperly tapped into proprietary methods used in the Analyst’s Notebook software product and system.

i2’s original complaint, however, makes claims that are embarrassing to both companies. The short version: According to i2, Palantir employee Shyam Sankar obtained i2 software representing himself as a principal of SRS Enterprises, a company registered under the names of his parents in Florida.

Sankar then allegedly proceeded to analyze i2’s software and use the results to develop tools to import data from i2’s software for use in Palantir’s analytical tools. (For its part, Palantir responded by alleging that i2 had “unclean hands” because it purportedly used information about Palantir’s products obtained through a company i2 acquired.)

A Great Investment?

Palantir’s approximate $20 billion valuation puts it in near the top of high-profile startups yet to IPO.

Obviously, the firm seems to do extremely well. But then again, things may not be as they seem.

A recent story from BuzzFeed attempts to raise doubt that Palantir is doing as well as some had thought.

Citing interviews with former employees and confidential documents, the story says that the company is losing some big clients (Coke, Nasdaq, and Amex) as well as some key employees.

Interview: Alex Karp, Founder and CEO of Palantir

Evelyn Rusli speaks with Alex Karp, founder and CEO of Palantir, about their new funding, getting government contracts, and trying to raise funding.

REFERENCES

Secretive startup Palantir is suing an investor alleging he was trying to steal its business ideas

i2 and Palantir: Resolved Quietly

IBM ‘dealt directly with Holocaust organisers’ — Guardian

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CIA PALANTIR Sues Early Investor

One Year Ago — CIA PALANTIR Sues Early Investor

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