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The Investor Alliance for Human Rights (IAHR) cited allegations of human rights abuses by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and said Palantir has enabled the agency’s work, “including surveillance, mass raids, detentions, as well as de facto family separations and deportations.” It said the company has not taken “meaningful steps” to deal with the consequences of how ICE uses its technology. Palantir called the report misleading. (Reuters)

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Talking point: Palantir is reportedly trying to raise as much as US$3 billion in its first funding round in four years after pausing plans to go public. But its investors—from whom it might seek follow-on capital—include funds run by publicly traded investment managers like BlackRock and Allianz. IAHR is calling on those firms to push the company to review its human rights policies and end its work with ICE. Institutional investors have made similar moves with tech companies in the past—in April, a group of 45 called on social media platforms to restrict harmful content.

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AnitaB.org, the tech organization behind the conference, said Palantir enables human rights abuses of asylum seekers. Palantir provides and maintains software used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to screen migrants and conduct raids; the firm renewed a US$50-million contract with the agency earlier in August. AnitaB’s move follows a petition calling for the drop by a group called NoTechForICE; it had 337 signatories at the time of publication. The petitioners continue to demand that AnitaB cuts partnerships with organizations that work with ICE, including Amazon and Microsoft. Palantir has not commented on the decision. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The Grace Hopper Celebration is the world’s largest conference for women in computing: in 2018, it drew 20,000 attendees from 78 different countries; past speakers have included Anita Hill and Priscilla Chan, co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. It joins a growing chorus of groups calling on tech firms like Palantir to halt their work with ICE, including some Palantir employees. At least two employee letters have circulated within the company that criticize its business with the agency, but CEO Alex Karp continues to defend the contracts, citing his commitment to working with the U.S. government, whose immigration policy he has described as “fair but rigorous.” AnitaB has a history of cutting sponsors it deems out of line with its values. In 2017, it ended a partnership with Uber over the latter’s treatment of women employees. Following that— and mounting pressure from advocacy groups—Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigned. Most of the Palantir criticism has been focused in the U.S., but the company is expanding significantly in Canada. In June, my colleague Murad reported that the firm had inked a million-dollar contract with the defence department. That was the first time the federal government had admitted working with the company. And, earlier in August, David MacNaughton, Canada’s ambassador to the U.S., announced he was leaving his diplomatic post to join Palantir.

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Petitioners pointed to the deaths of children in immigration custody and the Trump administration’s family separation policy, arguing that doing business with CBP would contradict Google’s stated principles. There were 556 signatories as of publication time. Google hasn’t commented on whether it will bid for the CBP contract. (The Logic)

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Talking point: The demands comes a day after a wave of arrests at a protest outside an Amazon Books store, where progressive Jewish groups rallied against Amazon’s existing cloud contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Cloud computing services allow border agencies to organize data to track and apprehend migrants—ICE relies on cloud servers to support its operations, especially in workplace raids. Internal pressure has worked on Google before—in May, the firm announced it would not renew a drone artificial intelligence contract with the Pentagon, following a petition and dozens of employee resignations. But at an initial price of US$9 million, that contract was of relatively little value, while the petition describes the CBP contract as being “massive.” And, a recent Wired investigation revealed that the tech giant has a turbulent political climate that’s split on key issues like immigration.

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About 1,000 people, led by Jews For Racial & Economic Justice (JFREJ), staged a sit-in at the Amazon store, demanding the company stop providing cloud hosting and other services to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Similar protests occurred the same day at more than 60 locations, including other major cities like Los Angeles, Philadelphia and Boston. Amazon declined to comment. (Gizmodo)

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Talking point: These protests are both much larger and have led to more arrests than others Amazon has recently faced. The company has faced backlash for the use of its technology in U.S. immigration enforcement before—in July, hundreds of demonstrators, including Amazon employees, gathered outside the company’s annual Web Services Summit to protest its relationship with ICE. Sunday’s protests also included a number of prominent members of New York City’s Jewish community; some of those arrested included rabbis and city council member Brad Lander. Amazon isn’t the only tech company facing calls to stop working with the agency: Palantir, a CIA-backed data-mining firm that relies on Amazon to run its software, has also been the target of protests in the past month over its contracts with ICE. Palantir has not severed ties with the agency.