Spy software company working with Govt

  • Breaking
  • 11/06/2013

A controversial US data company called Palantir has set up base in Wellington and is dealing with the Government.

Palantir helps spy agencies understand intercepted data. It is also the creator of software called Prism, though it insists it's not the same PRISM that the US National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower warned the world about. They say the name's just a coincidence.

Palantir is a multi-billion dollar software company. It works with the NSA, the CIA, the FBI and the US military, to name just a few. It helps spies trawl through, and make sense of, masses of data.

"Our idea is to really focus on what we call the most important problems for the most important institutions," Palantir chief executive Alex Karp says.

Palantir is based in California, with offices around the world, including somewhere in Wellington.

Prime Minister John Key won't say if it works with our spies.

"I can tell you I've heard of the company but I can't say whether our intel agencies work with them because I just don't disclose those details."

Palentir denies its Prism software is the same as the PRISM making the news at the moment.

"Palantir's Prism is completely unrelated to any US government program of the same name," the company tells 3 News.

But the Greens say New Zealand spies are using Palantir software in the same way the NSA uses PRISM.

"What Palantir does is it will be mining data – your data, my data – and handing it over to the New Zealand Government," Green Party co-leader Russel Norman says.

"Whatever they find on us, they would have to hand over to the US government."

Palantir Wellington is recruiting. There are five jobs up for grabs, including an embedded government analyst. The company knows exactly the kind of person it wants, requiring them to be "passionate about the mission", "spend late nights in the vault" and "although you loathe bureaucracy, you believe a revolution in intelligence is imminent".

"Help Palantir craft that revolution," it says.

Dr Norman is worried about what that means for New Zealanders.

"The big concern for New Zealand is that, as PRISM has shown, these governments have engaged in large-scale data mining on yours and my data. Palantir will simply be assisting them to do that."

Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel, who also founded PayPal, spends a lot of his time in New Zealand. He knows the Prime Minister, but Mr Key says he didn't speak to him about using Palantir's technology.

Both spy agencies refused to tell us if they use Palantir technology.

New Zealand already shares data with the United States. Now it seems the mining of that data is being privatised, outsourced to a US company.

3 News

source: newshub archive