Feb 22, 2017

How Palantir and the NSA connect Peter Thiel to Snowden

Palantir / YouTube

The Intercept has a look at Palantir's deployment by world intelligence agencies, specifically its use with the NSA's XKEYSCORE, a tool unmasked by Edward Snowden's leaks that captures "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet."

Palantir and XKEYSCORE: Back in 2014, Snowden described XKEYSCORE as "a one-stop-shop for access to the NSA's information," allowing the agency to read emails, track web traffic, and watch computer activity. But XKEYSCORE produces an incomprehensible amount of data, which is where Palantir's software (named Gotham) comes in handy. The Intercept uses the example of being able to pin down which IP addresses in specific locations visited a certain website at a given time.

The problem: Palantir, chaired by Trump supporter Peter Thiel, makes it so easy to visualize these data connections that British intelligence warned it gives analysts "too many analytical paths which could distract from the intelligence requirement." Privacy is a concern in any industry, but the clear implication is that analysts are then able to view the world's Internet traffic as they please. (The NSA declined to comment to Axios this story, while Palantir did not respond.)

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