Palo Alto based big data and software company Palantir has a whole bunch of intelligence agencies as its clients. Apart from the fact that the government doesn’t really need to check its wallet before buying something deemed absolutely necessary for national security, having clients from the FBI or the CIA is kind of cool as well. And of course, there is the satisfaction of knowing that the product you created will be (hopefully?) put to good use.
Oh and just in case you don’t know, Palantir is Peter Thiel’s company. Yup, the new US President’s best buddy in corporate circles. Meanwhile, we now have some new details regarding a couple of custom software Palantir created for the spy agencies, in collaboration with them. The report comes courtesy the Intercept.
Apparently, security agencies including the UK’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), worked directly with Palantir to develop custom software. This was of course, in addition to all the various contracts received by the firm through a whole bunch of government agencies from within the US, and abroad.
Apparently, not only did the Securities Investment Protection Corporation used Palantir’s technology in convicting schemer Bernie Madoff, Palantir also has a slew of contracts with U.S. government groups, including the CIA, DHS, NSA, FBI, the CDC, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point, the Joint IED-defeat organization and Allies, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The software development saw the company and spy agencies work neck by neck, with Palantir engineers and researchers collaborating with those from various spy agencies to develop things exactly how the latter wanted.
Meanwhile, the Intercept report also touched upon the new products being developed at the firm. The first product is called KITE and is capable of handling all sorts of data.
Out of the box, Kite was able to handle a variety of types of data (including dates, images, geolocations, etc.), but GCHQ was free to extend it by writing custom fields for complicated types of data the agency might need to analyze. The import tools were designed to handle a variety of use cases, including static data sets, databases that were updated frequently, and data stores controlled by third parties to which GCHQ was able to gain access.
XKEYSCORE Helper, the second product, built upon the National Security Agency’s XKEYSCORE program and sought to make the data obtained more intuitive and help assimilate it with Palantir’s own interface that is significantly more user friendly.
Revealed by none other than Edward Snowden, the purpose of XKEYSCORE, which is a computer system first used by the US’s National Security Agency, is to search and analyze global Internet data. The data is collected on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the program is now internationally used by spy agencies including
The Australian Signals Directorate, Canada’s Communications Security Establishment, New Zealand’s Government Communications Security Bureau, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst.
If Palantir can come up with a product that is relevant to US agencies, it is probably relevant to other spy agencies as well. Hmm. I can see a strong quarter for the company right here. Although not particularly old, Palantir is already moving in exalted customers and has some of the biggest clients in the industry, as its customers. With Peter Thiel’s close buddt Donald Trump now the President of the US, we can probably expect Palantir to snuggle even closer to US security agencies.
Well, I would certainly buy stock, if the company was only public. Last we heard it had a valuation of well over $20 Billion, so technically, it can go public if it wanted to. However, going public might require the company to introduce some level of transparency into its systems, finances and products. That could be what is, and could continue, keeping the company from an IPO when many of its tech peers are talking about and even going ahead in some cases, with public offerings of their own.