Hesse state 'unconstitional' Palantir predictive policing

Occurred: February 2023

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The German Federal Constitutional Court ruled the use of Palantir surveillance software by police in Hesse and Hamburg as unconstitutional, in a case bought by German civil rights NGO Gesellschaft für Freiheitsrechte (GFF).

Headquartered in Denver, Colorado, Palantir is a CIA-backed software and big data analytics company that focuses on defence, policing, and health. Palantir Gotham serves government, intelligence agencies, security and police forces, primarily in the USA. It is also increasingly used for predictive policing, with one feature allowing authorities to map networks of phone contacts.

The GFF had argued (in German) that Hesse and Hamburg had not made clear which sources the police could use for obtaining data or how much and on what grounds data mining could be conducted by law enforcement. Hesse State Police had been using the so-called Hessendata platform, which is based on Gotham. Hessendata reportedly triangulates datasets from police and other databases, including social media, to enable the analysis of potential suspects.

Palantir has also been the subject of controversy in Denmark and the Netherlands over its potential for inaccuracy and ability to reinforce racial and ethnic bias.

Operator: Hesse State Police
Developer: Palantir

Country: Germany

Sector: Govt - police

Purpose: Predict crime

Technology: Prediction algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity; Privacy

Transparency: Governance; Black box