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Privacy & Civil Liberties

Palantir Technologies


What We Believe

Palantir is a mission-focused company. Our team is dedicated to working for the common good and doing what's right, in addition to being deeply passionate about building great software and a successful company.

From protecting privacy and civil liberties to promoting open software to pursuing philanthropic engagements to a host of other initiatives, we put our values to work in the service of making the world a better place, every day.

Palantir Technologies is a mission-driven company, and a core component of that mission is protecting our fundamental rights to privacy and civil liberties. Since its inception, Palantir has invested its intellectual and financial capital in engineering technology that can be used to solve the world’s hardest problems while simultaneously protecting individual liberty. Robust privacy and civil liberties protections are essential to building public confidence in the management of data, and thus are an essential part of any information system that uses Palantir software.

A CORE ENGINEERING COMMITMENT

Some argue that society must “balance” freedom and safety, and that in order to better protect ourselves from those who would do us harm, we have to give up some of our liberties. We believe that this is a false choice in many areas. Particularly in the world of data analysis, liberty does not have to be sacrificed to enhance security. Palantir is constantly looking for ways to protect privacy and individual liberty through its technology while enabling the powerful analysis necessary to generate the actionable intelligence that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to fulfill their missions.

We believe that privacy and civil liberties-protective capabilities should be “baked in” to technology from the start rather than grafted onto it later as an afterthought. By seamlessly integrating these features into our software, we reduce user friction that might otherwise create incentives to try to work around these protections. With the right engineering, the technologies that protect against data misuse and abuse can be the same technologies that enable powerful data analysis.

ENGAGING WITH THE POLICY COMMUNITY

We also believe that privacy and civil liberties-protective technical capabilities must be combined with a rigorous set of policies to maximize their effectiveness. Audit logs are only effective when they are reviewed and access controls only protect information when they are used to limit data availability to those with particular needs and authorities. We work with our customers to advise them on how to use our technology to support effective privacy and civil liberties policies, and we educate advocates and policymakers as to our capabilities so that they can craft more informed law and policy.

Technological advances often raise novel privacy and civil liberties issues. Where the law is silent or undeveloped, Palantir consults with privacy and civil liberties advocates and some of the top legal experts in the world to figure out how to build our technology with safeguards that can be used as part of a responsible information handling regime. We obligate ourselves to do what is right, not just what is legal.

In October 2012, we created the Palantir Council of Advisors on Privacy and Civil Liberties (PCAP). The PCAP is an advisory body of independent experts in privacy law, policy, and ethics who help the PCL team understand and address some of the complex issues we encounter in the course of our work.

The Palantir PCL team meets with the PCAP regularly for discussion and exchange, including on such topics as:

  • New developments in privacy law, policy, and technology
  • Technical and procedural strategies to mitigate risks to privacy and civil liberties 
  • Opportunities to enhance the privacy and civil liberties protections built into our products

Our obligations go beyond just our product and our customers. Palantir supports a number of privacy and civil liberties advocacy organizations around the world. We also are eager to lend our voice and technical expertise to academic and policy discussions that will shape the future of the fundamental freedoms that we hold dear. We are proud of the work we are doing to ensure that data analysis is not just effective, but also reflects the values that are most important to us.

CURRENT PCAP MEMBERSHIP

We are enormously grateful to the following internationally recognized privacy and civil liberties experts who currently serve on the PCAP:

Bryan Cunningham – Founder of Cunningham Levy LLP, Cunningham is a privacy, cybersecurity, and data protection lawyer and long-time senior counsel to Palantir, Bryan serves as the Executive Director of the PCAP.

Alex Deane – Managing Director at FTI consulting. Alex was a founder of Big Brother Watch, a prominent U.K. privacy and civil liberties advocacy organization. Alex previously served as Chief of Staff to David Cameron and Tim Collins during their respective terms as Shadow Secretaries of State for Education.

Susan Freiwald – A law professor at the University of San Francisco who frequently participates in electronic surveillance legislation and litigation efforts.

Robert Gellman – A privacy and information consultant who worked for nearly two decades on privacy issues in the U.S. Congress.

Chris Hoofnagle – Chris holds dual appointments as adjunct professor in the University of California Berkeley School of Law and the School of Information (where he is resident).

Nancy Libin – Partner at Jenner & Block, former Chief Privacy and Civil Liberties Officer of the U.S. Department of Justice, and former Counsel to then-Senator Joseph Biden on the Senate Judiciary Committee and at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

Sylvain Métille – Partner at the Swiss law firm HDC where he specializes in data protection, surveillance, and IT law. Sylvain also lectures on computer crime at Lusanne University.

Stephanie Pell – A private consultant specializing in privacy and civil liberties issues who formerly served in the Department of Justice as an Assistant US Attorney and later as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General.

Dan Solove – A law professor at George Washington University, author, and founder of TeachPrivacy, a company that designs privacy and security training programs.

Nico van Eijk – Professor of Media and Telecommunications Law and the Director of the Institute for Information Law at the University of Amsterdam. Nico is an expert in legal and technical topics related to privacy and civil liberties.

Daniel Weitzner – Founding Director, MIT Internet Policy Research Initiative, former White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy and Co-founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

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