Palantir’s S-1 alludes to controversial work with ICE as a risk factor for its business – TechCrunch

Palantir’s mysterious work and its founding origins with Trump ally and anti-press crusader Peter Thiel have inspired a number of controversies in recent years, none as divisive as its ongoing business with ICE. But with a direct listing around the corner, the famously secretive company is in for a lot more scrutiny.

In Palantir’s forthcoming S-1 filing, obtained by TechCrunch, the soon-to-be-public company addresses concerns about managing its brand reputation as some of its contracts attract unwanted attention. Palantir makes the fairly combative claim in the risks portion of the unpublished financial filing that its business could be harmed by “coverage that presents, or relies on, inaccurate, misleading, incomplete, or otherwise damaging information” about the company:

“As our business has grown and as interest in Palantir and the technology industry overall has increased, we have attracted, and may continue to attract, significant attention from news and social media outlets, including unfavorable coverage and coverage that is not directly attributable to statements authorized by our leadership, that incorrectly reports on statements made by our leadership or employees and the nature of our work, perpetuates unfounded speculation about company involvements, or that is otherwise misleading.”

The filing also states that the company has its hands tied in responding to these hypothetical misleading reports due to the “sensitive nature” of its contracts and confidentiality requirements.

Incomplete reporting is inevitable for a company that’s largely shrouded the nature of its business from the public eye. Historically, any information that trickles out about Palantir’s work with U.S. defense and law enforcement agencies comes from FOIAs, like one that recently produced a user manual for Palantir Gotham, the company’s signature software platform developed for defense and intelligence agencies.

Palantir acknowledges that activists and the press have taken a special interest in the company due to its work with “organizations whose products or activities are or are perceived to be harmful.” The S-1 of course doesn’t name Palantir’s work with ICE specifically, but that contract has attracted a swarm of scrutiny, both from outsider observers and employees within the company. The filing notes that unspecified relationships have resulted in public criticism and “unfavorable coverage” of the company.

Last year, The Washington Post reported that Palantir employees were reckoning with the company’s work for the aggressive U.S. immigration agency, “[debating] the ICE contracts in town hall meetings, office hallways, Slack channels and email threads.”

While other tech companies have yielded to critics of defense and law enforcement work, Palantir instead has grown its most controversial contracts over time. The company’s S-1 discusses that decision making process:

“Activists have also engaged in public protests at our properties. Activist criticism of our relationships with customers could potentially engender dissatisfaction among potential and existing customers, investors, and employees with how we address political and social concerns in our business activities.

Conversely, being perceived as yielding to activism targeted at certain customers could damage our relationships with certain customers, including governments and government agencies with which we do business, whose views may or may not be aligned with those of political and social activists.”

In 2018, as the tech industry grappled with the ethical implications of lucrative federal defense work, more than 200 employees wrote a letter to Palantir CEO Alex Karp expressing their concerns over its ICE contracts. Palantir has two current contracts with ICE, one for the agency’s Investigative Case Management (ICM) internal database and another for software known as FALCON. Combined, those contracts are worth as much as $92 million.

Palantir makes a sizable chunk of its revenue by selling U.S. agencies software that weaves together data streams to monitor individuals, but the company draws a thick line at helping China do the same.

“We do not work with the Chinese communist party and have chosen not to host our platforms in China, which may limit our growth prospects,” the S-1 states, calling work with China “inconsistent” with the company’s aims and culture.

“We do not consider any sales opportunities with the Chinese communist party, do not host our platforms in China, and impose limitations on access to our platforms in China in order to protect our intellectual property, to promote respect for and defend privacy and civil liberties protections, and to promote data security.”

Palantir’s anti-China stance isn’t necessarily surprising given Thiel’s penchant for ominous warnings about Chinese tech dominance — a position that also happens to bolster his relationship with a White House that’s since kicked off an unusual crusade against Chinese social media giant TikTok. Still, it’s strange, noteworthy and a sign of the times to see a refusal to do business with China articulated explicitly in a tech company’s S-1.

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Novak Djokovic reveals closing in on Federer’s Grand Slam record a factor in US Open decision

Novak Djokovic has admitted he came close to pulling out of the US Open, but says he felt “responsible” to help the sport return to normality as he chases Roger Federer‘s all-time record.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner announced earlier in August he will be heading to New York for the two-week event which begins on August 31 despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.

Several top-ranked tennis stars have already withdrawn, citing a health risk to themselves and their team if they travelled to Flushing Meadows, with the United States the worst-affected nation in the world in terms of confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Roger Federer will not be present after undergoing knee surgery, while Rafael Nadal made the decision not to defend his US Open title. In the women’s draw, Naomi Osaka and Karolina Pliskova are the only non-US players in the top 10 who will be competing.

But Djokovic, 33, says he felt a duty to play once he was cleared by medical staff and suggested closing in on Federer’s collection of 20 Grand Slam singles titles was a motivating factor.

Djokovic has opened up on his decision to play the US Open  Photo: Getty Images

“I cannot say it’s the main reason why I’m here, but it’s one of the reasons,” Djokovic told The New York Times, adding that he came very close to skipping the tournament as well.

“I have to think about myself and my health and my fitness and whether my team is OK to be here.

“Once that was checked, then I, of course, also felt responsible as a top player to be here, it’s important for our sport to keep going.

“I want to play… That’s why I’m here. I’m personally not afraid of being in a risky, dangerous health situation for myself. If I felt that way, I most likely would not be here.”

Additional reporting from Reuters

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Bushfire royal commission hears natural disaster planning must factor in vulnerable people

People with cognitive and physical impairments and people who do not speak English well are not always well considered in emergency and natural disaster planning, an inquiry has heard.

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements on Tuesday heard about the importance of factoring vulnerable groups into planning.

Inspectors-General for Emergency Management in Victoria and Queensland Tony Pearce and Alistair Dawson told the inquiry they believed they were the only two people in such roles in the country.

Mr Pearce said vulnerable and high-risk communities, which included people with cognitive and physical impairments and people who did speak English well were not always well-considered.

His organisation prepared a report last year to highlight these vulnerabilities to the emergency response sector.

“If you don’t know who the high-risk communities are … it’s very difficult to plan your response to them and with them, taking into account those potential implications,” he said.

“Grenfell is a good example of how that can happen and, of course, our environment in Victoria is no different with the type of apartment blocks and so on that we have here.

Alistair Dawson added:

“There are also other aspects to this, which is for someone who may understand the language but can’t actually read the language.

Warning level concerns raised again

Anonymous Qld firefighter standing in front of a wall of flames in unidentified bushland.
The Natural Disaster Royal Commission has again heard concerns about the emergency warning levels for bushfires.(Supplied: Qld Dept of Community Safety)

The commission also heard further concerns about the wording of emergency alert levels used during bushfires.

The commissioners had previously heard the watch and act level was particularly confusing for communities.

A review of these warnings is currently being conducted and one of the Commissioners last week raised concerns about the time that review has taken.

“What we found is that in general terms, people got the message, they did understand it, but there were times when there was confusion around — do you want me to stay or do you want me to leave,” Mr Dawson said.

“People say yes, I received a warning, but I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, or they got it in a sequence that it confused them, so they were scrolling through the messages and saying, well, I wasn’t sure which message came first.”

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Trudeau cites potential U.S. aluminum tariffs as factor in decision on whether he’ll attend USMCA summit in Washington

OTTAWA —  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday he was still unsure whether he would go to Washington D.C. next week to celebrate a new North American trade treaty, citing concern about possible U.S. tariffs on aluminum.

Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who is due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump next week, has said he would like Trudeau to attend.

“We’re still in discussions with the Americans about whether a trilateral summit next week makes sense,” Trudeau said in a news conference. “We’re obviously concerned about the proposed issue of tariffs on aluminum and steel that the Americans have floated recently.”

U.S. national security tariffs on imported steel and aluminum — including from Canada and Mexico — were a major irritant during negotiations for the United States-Mexico-Canada trade deal, which was reached last year and entered into force on July 1.

But now, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is considering domestic producers’ request to restore the 10 per cent duty on Canadian aluminum to combat a “surge” of imports.

Concern about the “health situation and the coronavirus reality that is still hitting all three of our countries” is another factor in his decision on whether to go to Washington, Trudeau said.

The spread of the novel coronavirus has slowed steadily in Canada over the past eight weeks, but new cases are spiking in many U.S. states.

As of June 2, Canada had recorded a total of 104,772 coronavirus cases, with 68,345 recovered and 8,642 deaths.

© Thomson Reuters 2020

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Obesity a ‘major risk factor’ for coronavirus hospitalisations

General Practitioner Dr Peter Lewis says “after age, obesity is the second most important risk factor which triples your chances of being admitted to hospital”.

Dr Lewis said it was important for obese individuals to lose weight in order to reduce their chances of ending up in an ICU bed but also for the community to keep ICU beds open.

Regular exercise will not only help individuals lose weight, but it will have the added benefit of improving sleep patterns and warding of depression which has become more prevalent during the lockdown, Dr Lewis said.

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