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As previously published on our blog...

Announcing the Palantir Council on Privacy and Civil Liberties

Last month, at Palantir’s GovCon8 event, our CEO, Dr. Alex Karp, announced the creation of the Palantir Council of Advisors on Privacy and Civil Liberties (PCAP). This Council of experts has been created to assist us in understanding and addressing the complex privacy and civil liberties (P/CL) issues surrounding the use of our platform to aggregate and analyze of data in the many areas in which our customers work.

Over the course of the last couple of years, Palantir’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Team has assembled a group of some of the top P/CL academics and advocates in the world to advise us on P/CL issues related to the use of our platform. We have gathered this group (or a subset of it) every few months for in-depth discussions of various topics, such as the P/CL implications of supporting social media analysis or how to build P/CL protections into Palantir Video. These meetings have provided us with invaluable guidance as we try to responsibly navigate the often ill-defined legal, political, technological, and ethical frameworks that sometimes govern the various activities of our customers. In addition, while we do not collect or analyze data ourselves, we have occasionally leveraged the expertise of this group to provide help and advice to our customers who do.

The PCAP will effectively play the same role that our informal group of advisors has played to date. We will consult them for advice on identifying and responding to P/CL issues that may be raised with various current and potential customers (respecting, of course, the desires of those customers to protect their own confidentiality), and they will be asked to consider the P/CL implications of product developments and to suggest potential ways to mitigate any negative effects. The PCAP also will help 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.

The PCAP will initially consist of the following members:

  • Susan Freiwald – A law professor at the University of San Francisco who frequently participates in electronic surveillance litigation efforts.
  • Robert Gellman – A privacy and information consultant who previously worked for nearly two decades on privacy issues in the U.S. Congress.
  • Chris Hoofnagle – A lecturer at University of California - Berkeley and Director of the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology’s Information Privacy Programs.
  • Stephanie Pell – A private consultant specializing in P/CL issues who formerly served in the Department of Justice as an Assistant US Attorney and later Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General.
  • Jeffrey Rosen * – A law professor at George Washington University, author, and frequent commentator on P/CL issues.
  • Dan Solove – A law professor at George Washington University, author, and founder of TeachPrivacy, a company that designs privacy and security training programs.
  • Daniel Weitzner – Co-founder of the Center for Democracy and Technology, former White House Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Internet Policy, and current Director of the CSAIL Decentralized Information Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Bryan Cunningham, an information privacy lawyer and a long-time senior advisor to Palantir, will serve as the Executive Director of the PCAP.

We are enormously grateful to all PCAP participants for sharing their valuable time to advise us on these issues. We deeply respect their expertise and experience, which is why the PCAP will function under a set of rules designed to protect their integrity as independent experts. PCAP members will sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) that is modeled after those used by several advocacy organizations when working with private companies. PCAP members will be free to discuss anything that they learn in working with us unless we clearly designate information as proprietary or otherwise confidential (something that we have rarely found necessary except on very limited occasions).

The PCAP is advisory only—any decisions that we make after consulting with the PCAP are entirely our own and we will not ask them to publicly endorse anything we do. They will be free to criticize aspects of our work with which they disagree.

The field of P/CL experts is expansive and diverse, and although we have included some of the best on the PCAP we know that there are many more experts out there. Consequently, we will not rely solely on the PCAP for P/CL advice. We will continue to work with other experts and advocacy organizations on a regular basis to ensure that we are giving each issue the thorough consideration that it deserves.

Palantir is very proud to have assembled this group of experts, and we believe that they will be invaluable in helping us to fulfill our duty as a good corporate citizen to protect P/CL. Look for regular updates on the activities of the PCAP in this space.

* Jeffrey Rosen is no longer affiliated with the Palantir Council on Privacy and Civil Liberties.