(Image: Adobe)

When the secretive data start-up Palantir Technologies starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange tonight, we’ll get an early picture of how irresistible, how valuable, the market finds all the data that governments hold on us.

In its prospectus for tonight’s launch, Palantir says it aims to grow by “becoming the default operating system across the US government” and “to pursue significant expansion of our government work with US allies abroad”. 

Enter Australia, where government tenders show it has provided more than $40 million in software services, mainly to the Department of Defence, the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, since 2013.