Palantir Technologies is a mission-driven company, and a core component of that mission is protecting our fundamental rights to privacy and civil liberties. Since its inception, Palantir has invested its intellectual and financial capital in engineering technology that can be used to solve the world’s hardest problems while simultaneously protecting individual liberty. Robust privacy and civil liberties protections are essential to building public confidence in the management of data, and thus are an essential part of any information system that uses Palantir software.
A core engineering commitment
Some argue that society must “balance” freedom and safety, and that in order to better protect ourselves from those who would do us harm, we have to give up some of our liberties. We believe that this is a false choice in many areas. Particularly in the world of data analysis, liberty does not have to be sacrificed to enhance security. Palantir is constantly looking for ways to protect privacy and individual liberty through its technology while enabling the powerful analysis necessary to generate the actionable intelligence that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies need to fulfill their missions.
We believe that privacy and civil liberties-protective capabilities should be “baked in” to technology from the start rather than grafted onto it later as an afterthought. By seamlessly integrating these features into our software, we reduce user friction that might otherwise create incentives to try to work around these protections. With the right engineering, the technologies that protect against data misuse and abuse can be the same technologies that enable powerful data analysis.
Engaging with the policy community
We also believe that privacy and civil liberties-protective technical capabilities must be combined with a rigorous set of policies to maximize their effectiveness. Audit logs are only effective when they are reviewed, and access controls only protect information when they are used to limit data availability to those with particular needs and authorities. We work with our customers to advise them on how to use our technology to support effective privacy and civil liberties policies, and we educate advocates and policymakers as to our capabilities so that they can craft more informed law and policy.
Technological advances often raise novel privacy and civil liberties issues. Where the law is silent or undeveloped, Palantir consults with privacy and civil liberties advocates and some of the top legal experts in the world to figure out how to build our technology with safeguards that can be used as part of a responsible information handling regime. We obligate ourselves to do what is right, not just what is legal.
To that end, In October 2012, we created the Palantir Council of Advisors on Privacy and Civil Liberties (PCAP), a group of privacy and civil liberties experts and advocates who will us in understanding and addressing the complex privacy and civil liberties issues surrounding our work in various fields. The PCAP helps us think about future developments in technology, how law and policy might change to account for that technology, and what steps Palantir might be able to take to help address these "over the horizon" challenges. Their insight is invaluable as we try to fulfill our duty as a good corporate citizen and design and build technology that can help to protect our fundamental rights.
But our obligations go beyond just our product and our customers. Palantir supports a number of privacy and civil liberties advocacy organizations around the world. We also are eager to lend our voice and technical expertise to academic and policy discussions that will shape the future of the fundamental freedoms that we hold dear.
We are proud of the work we are doing to ensure that data analysis is not just effective, but also reflects the values that are most important to us.