Majority Of Manhattan DA Candidates Pledge To Sever Ties With Palantir


A majority of the Democratic candidates operating on this June’s Manhattan District Legal professional main are promising to finish the company’s use of software program from a controversial tech firm that has run afoul of civil liberties teams. 

Palantir Applied sciences, the Colorado-based software program agency, helps shoppers, together with some regulation enforcement companies, set up, mine, and draw connections between disparate units of knowledge. Throughout the nation, immigration rights activists have criticized Palantir for working with controversial federal companies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which has deployed its software program in office raids. 

That candidates’ pledge is one in every of a number of from a survey carried out by the GANGS Coalition, a bunch that contends that New York Metropolis prosecutors have unfairly exploited free gang designations to lock up giant numbers of poor Black and Latino residents.

Felony justice reform activists have criticized Palantir for serving to regulation enforcement analyze social media posts for gang prosecutions and coordinate operations for mass takedowns. 

The survey additionally requested Manhattan DA candidates to chop ties with any “different third social gathering surveillance and evaluation corporations.”

“Firms like these provide invasive surveillance by gathering and compiling knowledge from a large number of sources and purporting to show patterns and relationships of communities they aim,” mentioned Nathalia Alejandra Varela, affiliate counsel at LatinoJustice PRLDEF and a coalition member. “As a result of we expect this info is unreliable and that these surveillance ways are rife with racial justice and privateness points we can not have prosecutors proceed to make the most of such instruments.”

A graphic showing a question asking "Will you pledge to sever ties with Palantir and other third party surveillance and analysis firms and restrict these firms from sharing any information obtained by prior agreements?" All candidates agreed except Bragg and Crotty

Of the seven candidates who responded to the questionnaire, solely two, Alvin Bragg and Elizabeth Crotty, didn’t pledge to finish the usage of the software program. 

Crotty, a former Manhattan prosecutor, informed Gothamist she would want to evaluation the fee and constitutional ramifications of the expertise earlier than contemplating its use going ahead. In a press release, Bragg defined that as DA, he would restrict the software program’s use to advanced issues, equivalent to public corruption and white collar investigations. 

“I’ll dismantle intelligence-driven prosecution and third-party surveillance programs as they’re at the moment utilized by the Manhattan DA’s workplace to determine guilt by affiliation and goal folks of colour,” mentioned Bragg, who beforehand labored as a federal prosecutor and for the New York Legal professional Normal’s Workplace. 

Tali Farhadian Weinstein was the one candidate who didn’t present solutions for the survey. In a press release, the previous federal prosecutor mentioned she disagreed with calls to forswear the instruments like Palantir’s software program altogether, however promised to make use of them responsibly. 

“I reject this method, which might have us abandon the obligation to steadiness equity and security,” Farhadian Weinstein mentioned. “As a substitute, I decide to imposing the regulation pretty and transparently and in line with our values.”

Palantir Applied sciences disputed the GANGS Coalition’s framing and criticism of its work, pushing again on the label of it as a “surveillance firm.” 

“Palantir gives knowledge integration and evaluation software program that allows our clients to make accountable use of the knowledge sources to which they have already got lawful entry,” mentioned Courtney Bowman, Director of Privateness & Civil Liberties Engineering at Palantir. “We don’t gather, surveil, share, or repurpose clients knowledge. Slightly, the software program platforms we offer have been designed and are deployed to strengthen core privateness safety rules equivalent to knowledge minimization, proportional use limitation, accountability, and knowledge high quality.”

A spokesperson for the Manhattan District Legal professional’s Workplace declined to touch upon the candidates’ pledge to finish use of the corporate’s software program.

The GANGS coalition survey sought different guarantees from candidates on gang enforcement. Six of the candidates pledged to not use gang allegations in searching for the imposition of bail and pre-trial detention. The identical six additionally pledged, if elected, to make use of their affect as District Legal professional to name for the tip of the NYPD’s controversial gang database.

A graphic asking "Will you commit to not use gang allegations in seeking bail, pre trial detention or remand?" All candidates agreed except Crotty

Victor Dempsey, one other activist with the coalition, mentioned the marketing campaign guarantees sign a big shift in legal justice reform politics in New York Metropolis. For years, he argues, native regulation enforcement had routinely painted neighborhood crews of younger Black and Latino males as in the event that they have been refined legal enterprises. 

“For the candidates to take a stance on that, it exhibits us that they wish to maintain of us accountable the precise manner, and never simply tear up lives for an allegation,” Dempsey mentioned.

The Manhattan District Legal professional’s Democratic main is scheduled for June twenty second.