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[liberationtech] Palantir at Amsterdam Privacy Conference

Andrés Leopoldo Pacheco Sanfuentes alps6085 at
Fri Sep 21 09:11:06 PDT 2018


This is just unreal. PALANTIR, one software company dedicated to breaching individual privacy in favor of government interference, sponsors a “PRIVACY CONFERENCE?” 

“COSAS VEREDES, SANCHO,” Don Quijote said..


> On Sep 21, 2018, at 7:58 AM, Félix Tréguer <ft at> wrote:
> 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,
> Félix
> 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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