December 16, 2013 0 Comments
Saving the World is Big Business
Palantir Technologies, the secretive software startup that helps governments around the world fight fraud and terrorism via data mining, has raised up to $107.8 million as part of a new funding round. The latest round has brought its total funding to over $800 million at a whopping valuation of $9 billion. Clients such as, the NSA, the FBI and the CIA, along with corporate customers like the Bank of America and Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, use Palantir software to detect financial frauds, terrorists plots and the other big-scale criminal activities.
Palantir is named after the palantir from JRR Tolkien’s novel, Lord of the Rings. The palantir are seeing stones that allow the holder to look at any part of the world. The Tolkien reference does not end there. In the press, Palantir executives have proudly revealed that their job is to battle evil and “save The Shire.” For a company being funded by massive amounts of money from powerful government institutions, the big question is, can Palantir truly remain independent from its financiers? After all, according to the Lord of the Rings, the palantir can be used for both good and evil, depending on who is controlling the stone.
October 21, 2013 0 Comments
Big Brother is watching
According to top-secret documents provided to The Washington Post by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the NSA has amassed millions of data points from phone records, emails, instant messages, internet profiles, online bank records, and more. According to an NSA document, on a single day in 2012, the NSA was able to collect as many as 444,743 email address books from Yahoo, 105,068 from Hotmail, 82,857 from Facebook, 33,697 from Gmail and 22,881 from other sources. In an attempt to justify its actions, the NSA maintains that the sweep is part of the US government’s counter-terrorism effort and aims to detect information and relationships that might have an impact on US national security. The ultimate goal set out by the NSA is to spot potential terrorist activity online.
Now the question is, is it ethical for a government to invade its citizens’ privacy in the name of national security?
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