Home / Tech / Palantir workers are split over the company's work with ICE, but CEO Alex Karp won't budge despite concerned employees' petitions

Palantir workers are split over the company's work with ICE, but CEO Alex Karp won't budge despite concerned employees' petitions

Palantir protests

  • Palantir employees are divided over their company’s business with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
  • Palantir provides data-mining software to ICE that has been used to screen undocumented immigrants and plan workplace raids.
  • At least two letters have been circulated within Palantir over employee concerns about its business with ICE, the Washington Post reported, but Palantir CEO Alex Karp has stood by his decision, citing commitment to working with the U.S. government.
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Over the past year, Palantir employee ranks have been sharply divided over their company’s business with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the federal agency involved in detaining and deporting undocumented immigrants.

Palantir provides software to ICE that’s been used for screening immigrants and workplace raids. Within the company, employees have been at odds over its business with ICE, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider. 

Over conversations and on Slack, many of its employees have said they want its contracts with ICE to end, the source said – and with increasing news about families being separated about the border, employees have expressed distrust and frustration with Palantir’s leadership. Despite this, Palantir renewed its contract with ICE on Monday.

This month, over 60 Palantir employees signed a petition asking management to redirect profits from ICE contracts to a nonprofit charity, the Washington Post reported. And outside the company, activists have also protested at Palantir’s offices multiple times this year. Palantir did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Last year, Palantir employees reportedly confronted CEO Alex Karp with their concerns about the company’s business with ICE, the Washington Post reported, and likewise, over 200 employees reportedly signed a letter to Karp about these concerns.

Despite this, Karp defended this decision at a town hall meeting, the Washington Post reported. A source told Business Insider that Karp said he wanted Palantir to keep its contracts with ICE because of the company’s commitment to working with the U.S. government.

Read more: Here’s what you need to know about Palantir, the secretive $20 billion data-analysis company whose work with ICE is dragging Amazon into controversy

Karp had also bashed Google for ending a contract with the Pentagon after pressure from employees, calling Google’s actions “treasonous.” Karp had told CNBC, “Silicon Valley is telling the average American ‘I will not support your defense needs’ while selling products to countries that are adversarial to America. That is a loser position.”

Palantir co-founder Peter Thiel, a long-time supporter of President Donald Trump, also recently wrote an op-ed attacking Google for ceasing working with the US military on a project that involved artificial intelligence.

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SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about PyTorch, the world’s fastest-growing AI project that started at Facebook and powers research at Tesla, Uber, and Genentech

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