Palantir’s CEO, Alex Karp is a ‘self-described socialist’

Alex Karp Palantir Sun Valley
Karp, chief executive officer of Palantir Technologies, attends
the annual Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference, July 12,
2018 in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Angerer/Getty Images

  • Palantir CEO Alex Karp is a self-proclaimed socialist,
    according to a Wall Street Journal report.
  • Palantir has historically worked with intelligence agencies
    and law enforcement through the sale of big data. It’s even
    credited with helping the United States find Osama Bin Laden.
  • It was cofounded and backed by Peter Thiel, the billionaire
    investor and Facebook board member who is also one of President
    Donald Trump’s biggest advocates in the tech industry.
  • Palantir was also implicated by Cambridge Analytica
    whistleblower Christopher Wylie.

Palantir, the big data company that has sold information and
software to the likes of ICE and the NYPD, has a reputation that
some might compare to LexCorp, but a new profile from
The Wall Street Journal
describes CEO Alex Karp as “a
self-described socialist.”

That political identification is in stark contradiction to the
company’s activities.

‘Not everyone will like it’

Karp admitted to The Wall Street Journal that his family has
expressed their displeasure with Palantir’s work and acknowledged
that Trump-era politics has muddied Palantir’s saleability.
Palantir has been reported to have contracts managing and selling
big data to the likes of the NSA, FBI, CIA, ICE, and numerous
military agencies.

We want a public perception that reflects who we are, and
not everyone will like it,” Karp reportedly told The Wall Street

From the perspective of a self-proclaimed socialist, the
perception doesn’t look too great


According to the Democratic
Socialists of America
, the largest socialist group in the
US, “Democratic socialists do not want to
create an all-powerful government bureaucracy. But we do not want
big corporate bureaucracies to control our society either…
Democratic socialists favor as much decentralization as

So far, Palantir’s whole business model has been based on
empowering federal and state bureaucracy, and certain
corporations, with exclusive big data tools.

In New Orleans, Palantir was secretly being used for predictive
policing, according to
The Verge
. Predictive policing programs have previously been
shown to increase surveillance and arrests in communities
of color while providing extremely limited predictive power,
according to a
from the RAND Corporation.

Another report from The Verge
that Palantir had a contract with US Customs and
Border Protection to provide data and systems to produce risk
assessments on passengers. Edward Hasbrouck of the Identity
Project, a group that seeks to expose impediments to human
migration, told The Verge that Palantir’s system is “the
black-box system of profiling algorithms” associated with Trump’s
“extreme vetting” of immigrants.

Palantir has also
worked with
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the
US, building three systems that allow 
the deportation
force to store and search troves of data on targeted individuals
and manage their profiles. 

When employees reportedly “begged” to end the ICE deal, Karp
claimed that data was being used for drug enforcement, not family
separation, a highly unpopular Trump administration policy
that separated undocumented parents from their children.

Palantir also contracted
with the NSA to aggregate, organize, and index data
from XKEYSCORE — the program that indiscriminately
collected data on wide swaths of American internet

According to The Wall Street Journal, Palantir is now
working to empower large corporations with the same sort of data
services. They have already reportedly secured contracts with
Credit Suisse, Merck, Fiat, and Airbus. Companies like Merck and
Credit Suisse are reportedly using them for logistical analytics
and financial analysis, respectively.

Besides Palantir’s work in big data, the company has also
been linked to a major privacy scandal. In March, Palantir
admitted that at least one employee engaged with “people
associated with Cambridge Analytica” between 2013 and 2014 on a
“personal capacity.” According to
The New York Times
, Palantir employee Alfredas Chmieliauskas
worked with Cambridge Analytica on obtaining Facebook data that
would eventually be used to create psychographic profiles of
voters. Whistleblower Chris Wylie alleged that other members of
Palantir worked with Cambridge Analytica and helped build tools
that would eventually be used to target voters in the 2016
presidential election.

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