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Palantir forced out of job fair after outcry over ICE contracts

Palantir forced out of job fair after outcry over ICE contracts


“Members of our community contacted us with concern,” said Lesbians Who Tech

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In September, the LGBTQ tech organization Lesbians Who Tech will throw its annual conference in New York, including a range of high-profile speakers, breakout sessions, and a job fair aiming to place talented LGBTQ employees at high-profile firms. Sponsors include some of the biggest names in tech, including Google, Oculus, and Verizon.

Last week, that list included Palantir, too — but in the days since, Palantir has been discreetly removed from that list. The company’s money has been refunded and it no longer has any role in the job fair, which will proceed as if Palantir had never been a sponsor.

Reached by The Verge, Lesbians Who Tech confirmed the dropped sponsorship, saying it was the result of public objection to Palantir’s recent contract work with the US government.

“Members of our community (the LGBTQ community) contacted us with concern around Palantir’s participation with the job fair,” a representative said, “because of the recent news that the company’s software has been used to aid ICE in effort to gather, store, and search for data on undocumented immigrants, and reportedly playing a role in workplace raids.”

Palantir currently provides data analysis software to ICE through a range of different contracts, including one contract made directly with the agency’s HSI division. That division was directly responsible for a string of workplace raids that took place in early August, which detained over 50 undocumented immigrants for deportation.

In the wake of the workplace raids, more than 200 Palantir employees signed a letter to CEO Alex Karp protesting the company’s involvement with ICE. So far, Karp has been unmoved by those concerns, and the company has showed no signs of slowing its work with ICE.

Karp has also harshly criticized companies like Google that decline similar US contracts on moral grounds, calling it “a loser position” in an interview with CNBC.

That stance has made Palantir unwelcome in many circles of the tech world, as this latest job fair incident demonstrates. Lesbians Who Tech emphasized that it still hoped to support LGBTQ employees within Palantir on an individual basis, even as the political situation made it difficult to deal with the company as a whole.

“This news around the software in addition to the widely publicized raids, inhumane detention centers, and family separation tactics has created heightened concern for various human rights issues,” Lesbians Who Tech said. “LGBTQ issues are human rights issues, and we must stand united on these issues that impact marginalized peoples.”

Palantir did not respond to a request for comment.

Correction: An earlier version of this piece misstated the ICE division which contracted with Palantir in connection with the workplace raids. It is Homeland Security Investigations, not Enforcement and Removal Operations. The Verge regrets the error.