In 2019 NSO agreed to reconnect the Pegasus system in Saudi Arabia, in the context of Netanyahu’s contacts regarding the Abraham Accords. Until the accords were announced, Israel gave NSO a permit to sell Pegasus to almost all of the countries that signed the agreements.
(Jan. 28, 2022)
The F.B.I. had bought a version of Pegasus, NSO’s premier spying tool. For nearly a decade, the Israeli firm had been selling its surveillance software on a subscription basis to law-enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, promising that it could do what no one else — not a private company, not even a state intelligence service — could do: consistently and reliably crack the encrypted communications of any iPhone or Android smartphone.
(Jan. 28, 2022)
The Times found that sales of Pegasus played a critical role in securing the support of Arab nations in Israel’s campaign against Iran and negotiating the Abraham Accords, the 2020 diplomatic agreements, signed at a Trump White House ceremony, that normalized relations between Israel and some of its longtime Arab adversaries.
The U.S. had also moved to acquire Pegasus, The Times found. The F.B.I., in a deal never previously reported, bought the spyware in 2019, despite multiple reports that it had been used against activists and political opponents in other countries. It also spent two years discussing whether to deploy a newer product, called Phantom, inside the United States.
Palantir said it is not involved in the harvesting or storage of health data but is working with the CDC and HHS to provide its Foundry suite of tools to analyze the agencies’ COVID-19 data. The set of data tools has the power to “clean” and “harmonize” the information flowing in from local hospitals, states and other sources related to the virus, according to a source with knowledge of the arrangement between the company and the government.
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded the contract for this platform to Palantir Technologies, a secretive data-mining firm known for its work with the Pentagon, intelligence agencies and law enforcement during the so-called global war on terrorism. The HHS Protect Now platform will aggregate data from at least 187 different sources, including the federal government, state and local governments, hospitals, and the private sector.
As Palantir’s executives were preparing over the summer to release shares publicly for the first time, they faced a challenge: how do you convince investors to buy into a 17-year-old company that has never turned a profit?
We share the common goal of preserving public confidence in systems that can help make us all safer. Therefore, before the NHS continues its plans, we urge you to provide the public with more information and take appropriate measures to reduce risk of data sharing and keep the aggregated data under democratic control.
In March, the NHS announced a new plan to build a datastore that aggregates COVID-19 health data. Microsoft, Google, Palantir, Faculty and Amazon will assist in the development of the datastore and the processing of the data.
In an open letter directly addressed to the health secretary, civil society organisations, privacy advocates and academic researchers urged Hancock to give the public more information about the datastore and take appropriate measures to reduce data-sharing risks and keep it under democratic control.
Last week, Palantir got the US government contract to run a new system for tracking the spread of COVID-19.
It’s not just the US that is boosting surveillance in the pandemic. In tiny Liechtenstein, the government has launched biometric tracker bracelets that automatically collect key medical information. The statelet plans for all citizens to wear them by autumn, while Germany, Turkey and France are also among the 23 countries that have looked at high-tech surveillance measures in response to the crisis.
It is unclear what exactly this data is, where it comes from, or how it’s being used. It’s also unclear if Palantir is the sole technology provider of the tool, or if other partners are involved.
Reports earlier this month first surfaced Palantir’s involvement with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the UK’s National Health Service regarding coronavirus tracking software and other assistance in combating the global pandemic.