Let me first say that there is nothing illegal about what follows. You may not like it, but it is not illegal.
Using a public records request, Motherboard obtained a user manual for the Palantir surveillance system called Gotham.
The system is used by law enforcement around country (including, for example, New York, New Orleans, Chicago and Los Angeles), but northern California has got them all beat. It is also used by a number of private companies.
Northern Cal has created something called the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center or NCRIC. Through NCRIC, 300 cities in California, home to almost 8 million people, had access to Palantir’s data.
So what can a city ask NCRIC for?
This includes emails, phone numbers, current and previous addresses, social security number(s), business relationships, license plates, and travel history as captured by license plate cameras. The tool also maps that person’s “possible relatives” and “possible associates,” or their friends and family.
- If they have the name of a person associated with a license plate, they can find out where that vehicle has been over any period of time via license plate reader data.
- With a name, police can get email and phone info, current and previous addresses, bank accounts, social security numbers, business relationships, family relationships, height, weight and eye color.
- They can find out who are the family members of the evil person along with their business associates. Once they have those names, they can get the information above for those people too. Those people, of course, may or may not have done anything illegal.
The feds pay for NCRIC including the 80 people who work there, through a grant.
NCRIC’s contract with Palantir expires this year and Palantir will be replaced by SAS, another big data company, but NCRIC has a license to use Gotham forever.
Again, remember, nothing about this is illegal and you might be able to do most of this yourself with some work, but in the case of Palantir, all you have to do is type a name and click a few buttons.
Welcome to 1984.
And, don’t forget, none of this is limited to law enforcement. It is limited to only those people who’s credit cards or checks clear.
Source: Motherboard (there is a lot more info in the article).