Palantir and data analysis

2017-07-27

in Bombs and rockets, Internet matters, Politics, Security

Writing in The Guardian, Jacques Peretti has compiled an interesting summary of the technological capabilities and government-to-business relationships of Palantir, a secretive technology company focused on identifying patterns within large data sets and making them accessible to people without specialized training.

With sensors getting cheaper all the time, the tricky part of ubiquitous surveillance isn’t collecting the data. It’s making it intelligible and applicable. These kinds of powerful data linkage and analysis tools also undermine common-sense expectations and procedures for the protection of privacy. No human being might be able to look at a set of large supposedly-anonymized databases and pick out individuals, but it’s increasingly within the scope of what can be routinely done with computers.

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. August 2, 2017 at 2:30 pm

In their Defcon 25 presentation, “Dark Data”, journalist Svea Eckert and data scientist Andreas Dewes described how easy it was to get a massive trove of “anonymized” browsing habits (collected by browser plugins) and then re-identify the people in the data-set, discovering (among other things), the porn-browsing habits of a German judge and the medication regime of a German MP.

The pair were making a point about the ease of “re-identification” attacks on data-sets that have been “anonymized,” a very active field, that is especially relevant because the EU’s strict data-handling rules can be bypassed if you “anonymize” your data.

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