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[liberationtech] Palantir at Amsterdam Privacy Conference

Félix Tréguer ft at
Fri Sep 21 05:58:55 PDT 2018

Thanks for this initiative, which I gladly join.

Microsoft and Google are also among the sponsors of this conference. And 
many of the concerns expressed about Palantir similarly applies to them.

I think their ties to this conference, and more generally to the 
academic field, is also problematic. I just wish the statement had also 
acknowledged that.

Thanks again,


On 9/21/18 11:36 AM, Niels ten Oever wrote:
> Dear all,
> 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 You can also find the statement at
> Best,
> Niels
> 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 [3]. While the company is largely secretive about its
> operations, it reportedly collaborated with Cambridge Analytica [4, 5],
> hedge funds, banks and financial service firms [6].
> 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
> Privacy Conference,
> 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.

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