Palantir and data analysis

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.

Author: Milan

In the spring of 2005, I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a degree in International Relations and a general focus in the area of environmental politics. In the fall of 2005, I began reading for an M.Phil in IR at Wadham College, Oxford. Outside school, I am very interested in photography, writing, and the outdoors. I am writing this blog to keep in touch with friends and family around the world, provide a more personal view of graduate student life in Oxford, and pass on some lessons I've learned here.

One thought on “Palantir and data analysis”

  1. 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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