September 28, 2020 | technology | No Comments
Amnesty International is criticizing Palantir’s human rights record a day before the secretive Silicon Valley technology startup is set to go public.
In a report on Monday, Amnesty singled out Palantir’s contracts with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as well as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Palantir’s software allows ICE to build detailed profiles of people in a single location, drawing on existing ICE data, public records and active investigations.
Amnesty says ICE has also used Palantir’s technology in arresting the parents of children who cross the border unaccompanied and to conduct massive workplace raids, such as a 2019 raid in Mississippi that swept up nearly 700 workers.
The data company “has sought to deflect and minimize its responsibility to protect human rights,” Amnesty said, adding that “there is a high risk that Palantir is contributing to serious human rights violations of migrants and asylum-seekers.”
“Palantir touts its ethical commitments, saying it will never work with regimes that abuse human rights abroad. This is deeply ironic, given the company’s willingness stateside to work directly with ICE, which has used its technology to execute harmful policies that target migrants and asylum-seekers,” Michael Kleinman, the director of Amnesty International’s Silicon Valley Initiative, said in a statement.
Pressure to cut ties with ICE
Palantir has previously disputed its links with deportations, saying that it does not contract with the ICE division that removes immigrants and says that its software is not used as part of detentions or deportations.
The company declined comment, citing a mandatory “quiet period” prior to its going public.
Other news reports and activist groups have documented evidence that Palantir’s software is used to carry out deportations. Human rights groups and privacy advocates also have urged Palantir to cut ties with the federal government. The American Civil Liberties Union has called for Palantir, Amazon Web Services and other data brokers to drop their contracts with ICE and Customs and Border Patrol.
Palantir’s own employees have criticized the company’s work with ICE, news reports note.
“Palantir Technologies’s work helping U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement find and arrest immigrant children’s family members has made the data-analytics company too toxic for Silicon Valley,” Harrison Rudolph, a senior associate at the Georgetown Center for Privacy and Technology, said Monday. “I hope that investors will decide that Palantir’s deportation contracts make it too toxic for Wall Street, too.”
The Department of Homeland Security is Palantir’s second-largest customer, after the Department of Defense, according to government spending figures.
Palantir could be worth as much as $22 billion when it goes public Tuesday, Bloomberg reported.