Thiel’s company Palantir helped the NSA develop a program they call XKeyscore.
Peter Thiel is a man who enjoys both the having of cake and the putting of that cake into the largest hole in his face.
He’s written that "A free press is vital for public debate," yet financed a lawsuit that bankrupted Gawker Media. He’s buddy-buddy with "America First" President Donald Trump, but if his friend winds up ruining the United States, Thiel’s got citizenship in New Zealand. And now, thanks to a report by The Intercept, it sounds like Thiel has worked to sharpen government surveillance while his company (and he) has claimed a fondness for privacy.
According to the report, Thiel’s company Palantir helped the NSA develop a program they call XKeyscore.
The NSA, as The Intercept points out, believes it’s their most invasive tool. It logs an enormous array of communication and other data transmitted by Internet users, including email, photos, sites you visit, documents you have saved, social networks you visit and what you write there, anything you type, your passwords, anything you upload, whomever you talk to via programs that access your webcams, and more. Also, it’s searchable.
For those comforted by a hope that this is all far, far, way too much information for any government official to know where to begin searching, this is where Palantir comes in to mulch that hope.
The company offered a sort of visual mapping for XKeyscore’s bottomless pit of information. It built visuals that allowed anyone looking to graph to see social connections as well as ideological groupings. A group of people all linked via their social accounts might all have a love for Thomas Jefferson, for example, and agents can infer what they will from that.
"Privacy and Civil Liberties" is the first category in the "What We Believe" section of Palantir’s website.
"With the right engineering, the technologies that protect against data misuse and abuse can be the same technologies that enable powerful data analysis," the site reads.
It’s unclear whether Palantir has yet achieved "the right engineering."