According to Buzzfeed News, the NYPD and Palantir Technologies are set for a legal showdown over data obtained by the Silicon Valley startup.
Palantir is worth a reported $20 billion, according to Buzzfeed, and has worked closely with the NYPD since 2012.
The Silicon Valley company, started by investors like Peter Thiel, has used their work with the NYPD to find business relationships with other law enforcement agencies.
Buzzfeed News reports that Palantir counts multiple government agencies among their clients, “Palantir does significant business in Washington, working for the CIA, the FBI, the Marine Corps, and the military’s Special Operations Command.”
Palantir collects and analyzes data and acts as a sort of technological branch of these law enforcement agencies, but questions have been raised about who actually ‘owns’ the data that Palantir collects.
This is the crux of the issue between Palantir and the NYPD.
William Alden of Buzzfeed News writes,
“The NYPD is canceling its Palantir contract and intends to stop using the software by the end of this week, according to three people familiar with the matter who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. The department has created a new system to replace Palantir, and it wants to transfer the analysis generated by Palantir’s software to the new system. But Palantir, the NYPD claims, has not produced the full analysis in a standardized format — one that would work with the new software — despite multiple requests from the police department in recent months.”
As for Palantir, a spokesman for the company said in a statement that they are cooperative and open with all of their clients. The statement read,
“Palantir is an open platform. As with all of our customers, their data and analysis are available to them at all times in an open and nonproprietary format.”
One of the most infamous cases of how Palantir helps the NYPD was the case of Bobby Shmurda, wherein the Silicon Valley company amassed crucial data about the Brooklyn rapper and his crew.
The relationship between law enforcement and big data companies is a complicated one, especially when the data collected is so sensitive and volatile.
But as Silicon Valley gets further ahead of law enforcement, even the government, in how they are able to track and analyze data and crime, these relationships may be necessary, despite the inherent discontents.
With lawyers set to be brought in, expect a massive legal showdown between Palantir and the NYPD over the next weeks and months.
That could get hairy for the NYPD as Palantir successfully won a lawsuit last year against the US Army in a bid for an intelligence contract.
This is surely a space to watch.