Privacy advocates are calling for a European investigation into Palantir
The Dutch privacy group SOMI calls for a comprehensive investigation into the EU-wide activities of the disputed data analytics firm Palantir and seeks to raise awareness of European governments' cooperation with EU overseas tech companies on surveillance and profile technology.
This article was published on 16 November 2020 on Tmarket.ge in Greece. Please find the English translation below.
The Amsterdam-based Foundation for Market Information Research (Stichting Onderzoek Marktinformatie, or SOMI) is a non-profit organization that advocates for data privacy and consumer issues in the Netherlands and Europe.
It is said that it is taking action because neither Palantir nor the many European agencies that use its technology wanted to share any information about its work. These bodies are known to include Europol, which used Palantir Gotham software to analyze the operations of the anti-terrorist group, as well as the French intelligence services, the Danish National Police, the German State Police in Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia. Possibly the Dutch police.
In the UK, in addition to being linked to Cambridge Analytica in the past, Palantir has worked alongside Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft to develop a data analytics program for NHSX Covid-19. They were recently assigned oversight of the UK post-Brexit border and customs data, while in the US they worked with the US Immigration Agency ICE, which itself has been involved in numerous human rights violations under the Trump regime.
"The strength of the Palantir approach lies in the fact that independent and thus meaningless data are combined to form unexpected connections and perspectives," said Cor Wijtvliet, co-founder of SOMI.
"But it was precisely access to this database that gradually turned appreciation and admiration for the work and software into a mood of distrust and rejection."
SOMI hopes that its complaint will benefit European citizens by forcing Palantir and its users to clear how the company accesses citizens' data, who uses it, what it uses it for, and what data it already has or is reviewing. It also hopes to highlight the potential consequences for European agencies of "incorrect or incorrect software in line with the EU GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation]".
They said they believe that the police forecasting methods by which the planning program allows for a clear violation of the presumption of innocence prior to the conviction and several GDPR regulations. Notably SOMI, the GDPR provides guarantees against the use of practices such as profiles and automated decision making.
SOMI also highlighted Palantir's close relationship with the US government and intelligence agencies as a source of concern, as well as a lack of transparency with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
"SOMI's public action aims to ensure that all European citizens are well protected from accidental or controlled practices and that the integrity of EU surveillance operations is not compromised by non-known (non-European) organizations," the group said.
For more information on the proposed actions, including for current EU citizens, and how to register for participation, see the SOMI website in Dutch and English. The organization has also developed a GDPR mobile app that users can download by requesting access to the subject for personal information review.