In the shadow of the Corona crisis, the surveillance state in Germany is being systematically expanded. The controversial Palantir software, which was also created with funds from the CIA, has once again attracted negative attention. The monitoring software is already being used by the state police in Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW).
The NRW data protection officer has now described their use as inadmissible and potentially illegal. The population is being distracted by the coming election, while the surveillance of citizens is progressing apace.
Edward Snowden has spoken of an “architecture of oppression” that is being installed in the shadow of the Corona crisis and that will not be dismantled in a post-Corona period, but threatens to exist long after the health crisis is resolved.
Control, surveillance and thus power and maintenance of power at any cost is only possible in the 21st century by means of complete control of the Internet. At the same time, the Internet enables direct access to the data of every citizen. The fight for the fundamental right to privacy demands that a stop is put this arbitrary state decision.
The basic idea is that personal data may only be used for the purpose for which it was collected.
But the Palantir approach is the opposite. The Bochum criminology professor Tobias Singelnstein described Palantir’s business model as follows: “To put it simply, the idea of Palantir is to lump everything together.”
The US secret service is openly investing in data analysis companies from Silicon Valley. In addition to investments in Google and Facebook, the secret service investment in the big data company Palantir is increasingly coming into the public eye.
In America, data from the military, secret services and police databases are already being mixed together and used to suppress insurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq. Gotham is the name of this controversial programme.
The Gotham programme from Palantir is a huge search engine that analyses and consolidates mass data from the Internet, monitored telecommunications, account movements, government registers and archives, and movement profiles. As a privately held company, Palantir is not required to reveal its finances or operations either.
The spying software is already being used by the police in Hesse, and at the beginning of January 2020 the police in North Rhine-Westphalia announced that they would also use the controversial software in the future. The initial value of the order is estimated at 14 million euros.
The basic right to privacy is thus in direct contradiction to Palantir’s corporate DNA, argued Stefan Schubert, who authored the article for the Kopp Report. “It is simply a scandal that the surveillance software of this company, which is well networked in transatlantic networks and in the political-media complex in Berlin, was bought by the German police with a double-digit million amount (tax money).” Had it been ensured that the software, as publicly claimed, would only be used against terrorists, for the most serious crimes and child abuse, Schubert said he would have been less critical.
But he said that the claim made by politicians that Palantir software is only used against terrorists and child molesters was simply not credible. In NRW it has now become known that the police are using the Palantir software in “test operations”.
The North Rhine-Westphalian data protection officer told German weekly Spiegel: “There is currently no legal basis for using the DAR software. If it is used with real data, it is illegal.”
The DAR software enables the comprehensive consolidation and analysis of data from different sources in order to generate new knowledge. By amalgamating different data sources, such as the residents’ registration office, the national weapons register, the driver’s license office, etc, the data protectionists assume so-called “data mining”. It is when huge amounts of data are “independently analysed for interrelationships in order to generate ‘new knowledge’ in this way”.
Tracking the movement profiles of millions of cell phone users in the country, which telecommunications companies have regularly transmitted to the state since the Corona crisis, is therefore not done on any legal basis. And now a controversial CIA company is also on board.
The Guardian recently reported on the activities of the controversial US company in Europe. Investor Peter Thiel used funds from the CIA venture capital firm In-Q-Tel to offer IT support to several European governments in the alleged fight against the pandemic.