Alberto Guglielmi—Getty Images/Blend Images
By Ashwin Rodrigues
July 27, 2018

He knows it’s bad. It’s Palantir after all. But there is one fear greater than one man’s fear of the ever-evolving data surveillance state: explaining what exactly Palantir is.

A 38 year-old accountant, Morgan Watts’s fear of Palantir is all-consuming. He’s covered his MacBook’s webcam, and installed the Signal messaging app. He’s even started browsing the web exclusively in Incognito mode.

“Palantir, man.” said Watts, when asked why he’d taken these privacy measures. However, when asked what Palantir is, or does, Watts had a decidedly less definitive answer.

“I have a full-time job, a family, and a thriving tomato garden. I can’t be expected to explain the inner workings of Peter Thiel’s brainchild. I just don’t have the time for a such a thing,” Watts said, lying.

As Watts described his style of news consumption, it became clear how one man can be so fearful of a company without understanding its purpose.

“I like to read headlines without reading the accompanying stories. Reading several headlines and drinking two cups of coffee give me just enough general anxiety to start my day,” Watts explained.

It is unlikely that reading more about Palantir Technologies would quells the fears held by Watts. In a 2017 report, the company’s multimillion dollar project with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) came to the public’s attention. Technology companies have come under fire for their work with ICE, especially when they’ve been accused of facilitating the separation of families.

The Palo-Alto based company, founded by Peter Thiel, with solutions ranging from “Cyber” to “Law Enforcement” to “Skywise” responded with the following statement. “There is nothing to worry about. We don’t recommend anyone reads more about Palantir.”

 

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