French intelligence has much increased its signals intelligence (SIGINT) and within the framework of its counterterrorist operations would now have a huge amount of data to sort, analyze and exploit. As a result, the French domestic intelligence agency (DGSI) is said to have signed a “big data” contract with US firm Palantir Technologies founded in 2003 by Alex Karp and Peter Thiel and which allegedly benefited from USD 2 million funding on behalf of In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s high tech investment fund. Palantir would thus count The Company as one of its customers in addition to the NSA, a notorious spy of French political and business interests around the world.
Beyond the apparent contradiction, DGSI technicians would have been trained by Palantir to use their data scanning and treatment softwares. Worth around USD 20 billion, Palantir would boast of having helped catch Bin Laden in Pakistan although the details made public so far about how Bin Laden was spotted and identified over at least several months didn’t mention it. Palantir does meet high security requirements and offers its customers permanently updated computer systems for less money than any “in-house solution.”
From the technical and financial viewpoints, Palantir seems a relevant choice. Thus the pending issue remains the national sovereignty of France that shares sensitive data with a foreign power. Therefore one should remind that France is a member of NATO’s integrated military command and that international cooperation in counterterrorist affairs is necessary. India, that yet enjoys a long historic military cooperation with Russia, also hired Palantir in 2010 with a view to countering terrorism, including the Maoist rebellion.