On Thursday, Bloomberg published an expose, detailing how data firm Palantir used JPMorgan as a test subject to develop surveillance analytics tools for the finance industry. The tool was used to spy on employees by tracking their GPS location, browser history and emails.
Palantir founder Peter Thiel, created the company to analyse data gathered from the CIA on Iraq and Afghanistan, and began using the technology for corporate use, this was called Metropolis.
According to the report, the company began working with JPMorgan 10 years ago to partner with the banks insider threat program, which at the time was lead by a Secret Service Officer.
Using the technology, JPMorgan looked for signs of upset and irritated employees to help prevent insider threats against the company. This was done by looking at GPS locations, emails, transcripts from recorded calls as well as past history of the employee. The program even took it as far as physically watching suspects after hours.
As the group grew, employees began to suspect what was happening, and program was caught out. In 2013, executives of JPMorgan discovered they too were being watched and the officer in charge was forced to resign.
It is reported that Palantir is highly difficult to use, as the software requires specially trained engineers to keep the technology running, and allegedly cost the bank $3,000 USD per day to run. Other large corporations Coca-Cola, Nasdaq, American Express, and Home Depot, have all tried the technology, but discontinued use shortly after.
Palantir has recently come under fire when the New York Times reported that one of the employees from the company assisted in Cambridge Analytica to improperly access personal data from 87 million people on facebook. They were also in the spotlight after The Verge also reported that the New Orleans Police department were using its products to discover residents’ ties to gangs without the knowledge of city council members.
Cover photo: Getty Images / AFP