Palantir Technologies, the data-mining company co-founded by billionaire and Trump transition adviser Peter Thiel, will likely assist the Trump administration in its efforts to track and collect intelligence on immigrants, according to a review of public records by The Intercept. Since 2011, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency's Office of Homeland Security Investigations has paid Palantir tens of millions of dollars to help construct and operate a complex intelligence system called FALCON, which allows ICE to store, search, and analyze troves of data that include family relationships, employment information, immigration history, criminal records, and home and work addresses. [...]
Working closely with a president-elect who has pledged to dramatically expand ICE, Thiel's varied connections to the immigration agency place him in a position to potentially benefit financially from a deportation campaign that carries highly personal stakes for millions of Americans. [...]
In addition to containing information on family relationships and immigration history, the records FALCON collects can also include photographs of subjects, employment information, educational background, and "geospatial data." [...]
Last month, it was reported that Trump and his advisers are drafting plans to launch a campaign of workplace raids across the country to find undocumented immigrants. With a mandate to enforce laws relating to unauthorized employment, HSI has been identified as the primary component within ICE that conducts such job-site raids. This past October, after a lengthy investigation, HSI agents raided several Mexican restaurants in Buffalo, New York, arresting more than a dozen workers, some of whom were charged with criminal counts of "illegal re-entry," raising an outcry from immigrant advocates. In 2013, after an HSI raid on carwashes in Phoenix, more than two dozen immigrants were reportedly sent to Enforcement and Removal Operations officers for possible deportation.
ICE can conduct such raids even in so-called sanctuary cities that have refused to allow local law enforcement to cooperate with ICE in finding and removing undocumented immigrants. [...]
Palantir, which is backed by the CIA's venture capital arm, did not respond to a request for comment regarding its ICE contracts and concerns over potential conflicts of interest. Peter Thiel spokesperson Jeremiah Hall declined to comment on a list of emailed queries, including a question asking whether Thiel has yet signed the Trump transition ethics agreement.
If this all sounds familiar, it's because it IS VERY FUCKING FAMILIAR:
Newly-released documents expose more explicitly the details of IBM's pivotal role in the Holocaust -- all six phases: identification, expulsion from society, confiscation, ghettoization, deportation, and even extermination. Moreover, the documents portray with crystal clarity the personal involvement and micro-management of IBM president Thomas J. Watson in the company's co-planning and co-organizing of Hitler's campaign to destroy the Jews. [...]
Among the newly-released documents and archival materials are secret 1941 correspondence setting up the Dutch subsidiary of IBM to work in tandem with the Nazis, company President Thomas Watson's personal approval for the 1939 release of special IBM alphabetizing machines to help organize the rape of Poland and the deportation of Polish Jews, as well as the IBM Concentration Camp Codes including IBM's code for death by Gas Chamber. Among the newly published photos of the punch cards is the one developed for the statistician who reported directly to Himmler and Eichmann. [...]
From the first moments of the Hitler regime in 1933, IBM used its exclusive punch card technology and its global monopoly on information technology to organize, systematize, and accelerate Hitler's anti-Jewish program, step by step facilitating the tightening noose. The punch cards, machinery, training, servicing, and special project work, such as population census and identification, was managed directly by IBM headquarters in New York, and later through its subsidiaries in Germany, known as Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft (DEHOMAG), Poland, Holland, France, Switzerland, and other European countries. [...]
Particularly powerful are the newly-released copies of the IBM concentration camp codes. IBM maintained a customer site, known as the Hollerith Department, in virtually every concentration camp to sort or process punch cards and track prisoners. The codes show IBM's numerical designation for various camps. Auschwitz was 001, Buchenwald was 002; Dachau was 003, and so on. Various prisoner types were reduced to IBM numbers, with 3 signifying homosexual, 9 for anti-social, and 12 for Gypsy. The IBM number 8 designated a Jew. Inmate death was also reduced to an IBM digit: 3 represented death by natural causes, 4 by execution, 5 by suicide, and code 6 designated "special treatment" in gas chambers. IBM engineers had to create Hollerith codes to differentiate between a Jew who had been worked to death and one who had been gassed, then print the cards, configure the machines, train the staff, and continuously maintain the fragile systems every two weeks on site in the concentration camps. [...]
At a time when the Watson name and the IBM image is being laundered by whiz computers that can answer questions on TV game shows, it is important to remember that Thomas Watson and his corporate behemoth were guilty of genocide. The Treaty on Genocide, Article 2, defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group." In Article 3, the treaty states that among the "acts [that] shall be punishable," are the ones in subsection (e), that is "complicity in genocide." As for who shall be punished, the Treaty specifies the perpetrators in Article 4: "Persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article 3 shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials, or private individuals."
International Business Machines, and its president Thomas J. Watson, committed genocide by any standard. It was never about the antisemitism. It was never about the National Socialism. It was always about the money. Business was their middle name.
We, the undersigned, are employees of tech organizations and companies based in the United States. We are engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration's proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable. [...]
Today we stand together to say: not on our watch, and never again.
"Facebook never would have taken the Lord's name in vain had they known the mic was live."
A spokesperson for Facebook, accidentally responding to a BuzzFeed News reporter via email, called the notion of a Muslim registry a "straw man." Seemingly thinking he was addressing a colleague, he suggested that the best course of action was to not respond to the reporter's inquiry.
Earlier today BuzzFeed News emailed Facebook to ask whether the social networking giant would make a commitment to limit data collection that could be used for ethnic or religious targeting, including a pledge not to build a registry of Muslims, if asked to do so by the government. A Facebook public relations representative intended to forward our request, along with a message about how to respond, within Facebook, but accidentally sent the email to BuzzFeed News instead and in doing so provided inadvertent insight into how the company plays the optics game. [...]Happy to talk to her off record about why this is attacking a straw man. Also I heard back from her that she may or may not write an additional piece depending on what response she gets from companies. So sounds like not making any stmt on record is the way to go.
The representative subsequently called, and asked that the email be considered off the record. This preference for off-the-record spin over on-the-record comments is fairly typical of large tech companies. Facebook ultimately declined to comment. [...]
But if you think that Facebook is not already a Muslim registry, you have really not been paying attention:
Facebook, of course, already asks for and retains sensitive information about the race, religion, and location of its users and allows advertisers to target narrow segments of people based on that personal information. Government officials here and abroad already use the social network to track activists and dissidents.
"We would never create a registry" sounds a little less convincing when phrased as "we would never run that particular SQL query on our existing database", doesn't it?