Thiel company helped support NSA spy program: report
Billionaire Peter Thiel’s company Palantir helped support the National Security Agency’s controversial spy program XKeyscore, according to a report in The Intercept citing previously undisclosed documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.
Palantir helped build software to accelerate and increase the NSA’s use of XKeyscore, according to the documents.
The program, first revealed by The Guardian in 2013, lets analysts search through databases of emails, online chats and browsing histories without authorization.
Thiel is an adviser to President Trump who has reportedly spearheaded the search for chair of the Federal Trade Commission and the antitrust head at the Justice Department.
His pro-Trump views have stood out in Silicon Valley, where many view the president with suspicion and oppose his policies on immigration and trade.
Thiel co-founded Palantir, which develops software for big data analysis, with Alex Karp, Joe Lonsdale and a few others in 2004.
The company is said to have secured more than $1 billion in federal government contracts in recent years, though it is tight-lipped about its government clients. One of its two central products, Palantir Gotham, is tailored for homeland security and intelligence clients.
According to the new disclosures, Palantir has also been employed by at least three members of the intelligence alliance called “Five Eyes” that connects the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada with the United States.
Palantir’s website proclaims its commitment to “protecting privacy and civil liberties” in the development of its technology.
Following the original Snowden disclosures, the NSA was forced to end its bulk collection of data from Americans’ phone calls. Still, civil liberties and privacy advocates have pushed for more reforms to boost transparency of and limit the government’s intelligence surveillance programs.
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