Trump Admin Gives Coronavirus Tracking Contract to Peter Thiel's Palantir: Report - 2020-04-22
Palantir, the surveillance firm founded by conservative billionaire Peter Thiel, has landed a contract with the feds to build a database tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus around the country, according to the Daily Beast.
Sources told the publication that Palantir data products will be primary, or even core, to a Health and Human Services project called Protect Now and will pull data from federal, state, and local governments, as well as universities and medical facilities. The purpose of the project is to "mitigate and prevent spread" of the virus, an HHS spokesperson told the site. Palantir's involvement is likely to raise eyebrows, as Thiel is both its chairman and a prominent Donald Trump supporter who has pledged to support the president's re-election campaign. He also reportedly was involved in pushing Facebook, where he holds a board seat, to allow political lies in ads, even setting up a meeting between Mark Zuckerberg and Trump at the White House. (Disclosure: Thiel secretly bankrolled a lawsuit that bankrupted Gizmodo's former parent company, Gawker Media.)
Palantir has contracts with federal law enforcement agencies, most notoriously Immigration and Customs Enforcement, where the company has used its digital profiling tools to enable raids of immigrant communities. It has also helped the National Security Agency with espionage, has contracts with the Pentagon to provide real-time maps and analytics to soldiers in the field, and provided backend support for NYC Office of Special Enforcement crackdowns.