Palantir Software

by Project Censored
Published: Updated:

Because people today tend to rely on various forms of technology, it is challenging to avoid detection from government surveillance. Thanks to new software called Palantir, it is now nearly impossible to avoid global surveillance. Created by Stanford computer scientists in 2004, this software has enabled its users to keep a close eye on people throughout the world. During the 2012 London Olympic games, Palantir was used for “tracking potential trouble makers.” Since Palantir was used during this event, it has been a globally by intelligence agencies to assemble data and information on individuals which could potentially lead to an invasion of privacy.

Palantir essentially works the same as Google. It acquires information of a person or place from numerous ranges of data, including health records, electronic communication, and surveillance images. In addition, Palantir also exploits information from social network websites such as Facebook. The FBI, CIA, The Department of Homeland Security, and even military branches such as the Marines and Army, are just some of the users of Palantir software in the United States. Currently, Palantir is used for gathering information on terrorists and criminals involved with drug trafficking and cyber hacking. In order to spy on these suspects, a name is typed into a Palantir database. From there, information varying from health records to surveillance images is taken from various sources and placed into one data base, creating a more efficient way of gathering information on suspects.

Palantir software has created a more efficient environment for government departments and military. While it does benefit society, the use of Palantir can be controversial. In the US army, there is internal debate on the use of Palantir software. The small minority who do support this software don’t understand “its problems with interoperating with other intelligence databases,” according to an anonymous army soldier. Another issue that Palantir interferes with is the invasion of privacy. For instance, health records are kept between the patient and doctor. In addition, electronic communication such as phone calls and text messages are designed to be between two people. The controversy of Palantir software revolves around the idea of the American government exploiting private information. In addition, the use of Palantir software can lead to false arrests. Someone could merely be at the wrong place at the wrong time. Overall, although Palantir software can benefit society, it also demonstrates the power and presence the government has over the United States.


“Global Surveillance Industry Gets a New Toy”, Fitzgibbon, Will. State of Surveillance. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 3 Aug. 2012. 20 Sep. 2012.

“Palantir, the War on Terror’s Secret Weapon”, Stone, Brad and Vance, Ashlee. Bloomberg Business Week Magazine. Business Week, 22 Nov. 2011. 20 Sep. 2012.

“Spy Chief Called Silicon Valley Stooge in Army Software Civil War”, Shachtman, Noah. Danger Room. Wired, 1 Aug. 2012. 20 Sep. 2012.

Student Researcher: Michael Downs and Carson White

Faculty Instructor: Professor Howley, Ph. D.

Evaluator: Brian Howard, Dept. of Computer Science

Depauw University