The press has reported on a rapprochement between Palantir® California start-up and a number of European countries for electronic surveillance in the fight against COVID-19. I am all the more surprised that the dominant impression was that there seemed to have been an awareness of the importance of our Digital Sovereignty both at the French level and at the European level.
Palantir® what is it?
It’s a California start-up specializing in Big Data. Palantir® is what we call a Tech, which mainly works on mass analysis and data crossing. But it is not only this activity, on which remains fairly discreet that makes it hit the headlines! This company is suspected of having shameful links with the C.I.A. (FDesouche.com), with good reason, since its first investor is In-Q-Tel, the C.I.A.
This Start-up offers these services to different states, including certain bodies of the French state, such as the DGSI (Les Crises) with which its French subsidiary signed a contract of 10 million euros, and certain police services. But its activities do not stop there, it also contracts with large industrial groups including strategic European players like Airbus (IT Veille technologique)
In summary an American unicorn in the field of Big Data and who has a cult of secrecy and in addition, whose leaders are close advisers to the American president. That calls out, doesn’t it?
Why is Palantir® interested in Health data?
The Covid-19 pandemic is an opportunity for this company to offer its services and products in the analysis of health data. All political actors in the world are under pressure from their opinions in order to find solutions to stem the pandemic and increasingly taking into account the economic impact that this crisis will have.
For Palantir® it is a dream opportunity, being able to access health data from many countries, would be a real “el dorado”, and of course a profitable source of income for the resale of these data to market players, manufacturers of pharmacy, medical equipment, and insurance companies… This is already the case in the United Kingdom where an agreement has been made between the NHS and Palantir®…
Current negotiations with France, Germany and Austria, however, would focus on the logistics improvement and inventory management aspects, but again this is strategic data which can then be exploited and resold. This raises real questions, however the AP-AP did not wish to comment as pointed out ZDNet. The second axis would be the use of geolocation data to model and better understand the state of contamination of populations, which will be effectively useful for managing the way out of the lockdown (L’Usine Digitale). This points out a problem on the conditions of data collections, will they really be anonymized? ICould this collected data be “crunched” with other data that the company will have collected during other contracts? I hear the remark that I will be made immediately: “Yes, but we are protected by our contract! “, But aren’t contracts like promises and only commit those who believe in them …
I just want to remind you that the first investor is a C.I.A. investment fund, is that likely to inspire confidence?
I must say that I am terrified by the contradictions between the political word and the acts and decisions taken. How can we indeed trust a society that is created by C.I.A. funds, should we remember the last scandale of this Swiss-based Crypto AG cybersecurity company, but the puppet of the C.I.A. who provided “secure” encryption tools? However, the European Commissioner for the internal market, Thierry Breton, specifies that Europe must regain its technological sovereignty (Interview BFM télé), we are therefore in a real contradiction. Does this mean that to date in Europe we would not have a company or start-up capable of taking up this challenge? The good vitality of our French Tech makes me doubt it. It would therefore rather be good to favor one of our nuggets, which would also avoid too much attrition among our start-ups. What do you think ?