Search Mailing List Archives
[liberationtech] Palantir at Amsterdam Privacy Conference
Niels ten Oever
lists at digitaldissidents.org
Fri Sep 21 02:36:32 PDT 2018
The Amsterdam Privacy Conference is about to kick off with Palantir as
the Platinum Sponsor. We, as a group of researchers and advocates are
dismayed by this. If you are too, consider signing up to the statement
below, by sending an email with your name and affiliation (or just your
organization if you want to sign up with your organization) to
signon at fundingmatters.tech. You can also find the statement at
As privacy scholars and advocates concerned with human rights, we write
to express our dismay with the decision to have Palantir as a platinum
sponsor for the Amsterdam Privacy Conference (APC).
Privacy is one of the central challenges of our time and a pressing
topic in today’s discussions on platforms, algorithms and policy making.
The APC is a powerful forum for academics and advocates from around the
world to move the field of privacy research forward. The conference is
an important venue for privacy scholars from many different disciplines.
The presence of Palantir as a sponsor of this conference legitimizes the
company’s practices and gives it the opportunity to position itself as
part of the agenda. This is deeply problematic and extremely regrettable.
Palantir’s business model is based on a particular form of surveillance
capitalism that targets marginalized communities and accelerates the use
of discriminatory technologies such as predictive policing, for which
the company has already been heavily criticized [1, 2]. Among Palantir’s
public clients are police agencies and defense departments from all over
the world. In the last year, Palantir has helped the Trump
administration to find and deport asylum seekers, undocumented
immigrants and refugees, raising serious concerns about wide-scale human
rights violations . While the company is largely secretive about its
operations, it reportedly collaborated with Cambridge Analytica [4, 5],
hedge funds, banks and financial service firms .
Despite criticism over Palantir’s sponsorship since the conference’s
2015 edition, APC’s sponsorship strategy has not changed. This stance
has consequences: it contributes to the marginalization and exclusion of
scholars that otherwise would have participated and enriched the
conversation at these events. Hence, it also impacts APC’s ability to
nurture public debate on privacy.
Palantir has also surfaced as a sponsor at a range of other prominent
privacy and technology policy events. Due to similar concerns, some of
these conferences have discontinued Palantir sponsorship, an example
that we hope to see replicated. Given the political, economic and
societal implications of privacy today, the funding strategies of our
conferences matter more than ever. However complicated the process may
be, it is time to develop sponsorship criteria and guidelines that
ensure academic independence and proper consideration of human rights.
We therefore call for:
1. The discontinuation of Palantir’s sponsorship of the Amsterdam
2. Organizers and participants alike to engage in an action-oriented
discussion on corporate funding of academic events,
3. The development of rigorous criteria and guidelines for corporate
sponsorship, for example, based on Human Rights Impact Assessments.
Niels ten Oever
Researcher and PhD Candidate
Datactive Research Group
University of Amsterdam
PGP fingerprint 2458 0B70 5C4A FD8A 9488
643A 0ED8 3F3A 468A C8B3
More information about the liberationtech