Oct 8, 2013

The rise and rise of Palantir and its ‘deep domain knowledge’

Palantir Technologies, a company in which the CIA has invested $2 million and helped the effort to destroy WikiLeaks, has set up shop in Canberra and is already doing well.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

On the fourth floor of an office building on Northbourne Avenue, in what passes for Canberra’s CBD, is an outpost of a much talked-about company that has so far gone under the radar in Australia. It is, however, unlikely that many Australians have avoided the company’s forensic gaze.

Palantir Technologies was established in 2002 by a clutch of US information analysts to explore the potential of datamining tools developed for Paypal. The CIA was a foundation investor, providing $2 million, and for several years its only customer. However, unusually for a company that has become a key vendor to the US military-industrial complex, its senior ranks are almost entirely men (and they’re pretty much all men) with Silicon Valley-style IT or financial backgrounds; the revolving door to the US military and foreign policy establishments that typifies most defence and intelligence companies doesn’t appear to be in full operation (yet).

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

5 thoughts on “The rise and rise of Palantir and its ‘deep domain knowledge’

  1. bluepoppy

    Palantir apology to Greenwald was only in response to bad PR over their attempts to smear organisations and people who were doing nothing more than telling the truth. These organisations are all part of new age culture of overt surveillance mentality. It would be too much to hope that government would refuse to deal with the likes of Palantir and further highlights why ethical considerations should be built into any procurement contract the government seeks to undertake. Any organisation dealing in smear tactics, obfuscation and lies to protect their bottom line should go straight into the ‘NO WAY’ bin.

  2. AR

    There has always a surfeit of men (sic!) without navels willing, nay eager, to snoop & subvert their fellow citizens, before even Kafka or Walsingham.
    The difference now is the technology, text, image & facial recognition, means that total surveillance is highly cost effective because one of the aforementioned extrusions need only be involved at the culmination.
    The next step, of course still ‘banned”, is auto-killing machines

  3. @Keening_Product

    The actions against Greenwald highlight just how dangerous a government with this kind of unsupervised information gathering power can be. Muckraking dissenters has always been among the more popular ways to keep the masses happy/in line.

  4. @Keening_Product

    I mean, I know a government wasn’t directly linked to that one – it’s just a good example of use and abuse.

  5. Chris from Canberra

    Palantir Technologies might have gone under the radar of most Australians, but the stench has n’t.

    I was driving down Northbourne avenue last week and had to wind the window up…Peeewww!

    There might be something Rotten in Denmark, but Canberra has gone to Hell.

  6. training wheels

    “Palantir does datamining, and does it very, very well.” No, no they don’t. One of Palantir’s founding and guiding principles is that algorithms CANNOT replicate the ability of a human to analyse data. They make a toolset that unites large and disparate data sets so that humans, yes humans, can intuitively query them. 5 seconds on their website shows this as well as their seemingly company-wide commitment to the preservation of privacy and civil liberties.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details