Citizen Thiel links to NZ spying and security

The historic granting of New Zealand citizenship to Trump supporter Peter Thiel made the headlines recently. Thiel’s connections to New Zealand seem to be more than citizenship and property ownership though.

NZ Herald: Billionaire Peter Thiel’s secret Kiwi spy links revealed

New Zealand spy agencies and our elite Special Air Service soldiers have long-standing commercial links with a controversial big-data company founded by surprise Kiwi Peter Thiel, the Herald can reveal.

An investigation into Thiel’s links to New Zealand has found his firm Palantir Technologies has counted the New Zealand Defence Force, the Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications and Security Bureau as clients with contracts dating back to at least 2012.

The connections between Palantir – controversial in the United States over its long links with National Security Agency surveillance operations and Thiel’s backing of President Donald Trump – and the New Zealand government has long been shrouded in secrecy.

Journalism isn’t dead yet (Matt Nippert wrote the article).

The revelation caused Kennedy Graham, Green Party spokesman for intelligence and security matters, to call for a delay to the passage of the New Zealand Intelligence and Security Bill, which today passed its second and penultimate reading.

The article is currently time stamped 8:48 pm last night – when did Graham here the ‘recvelation’?

Graham said the New Zealand-Palantir connection was “potentially huge” and raised more questions than it answered.

“The Parliament should not be too hasty until these things properly come to light,” he said.

Some of the Palantir story has been known for some time.

This mystery is undercut by official publications by the agencies themselves over the past few years disclosing its use. A recently-advertised job description for the SIS said a key performance measurement would be that “appropriate user champions are identified within teams and provided with support to develop the Palantir skills of their team.”

Jobs advertised in Wellington by Palantir itself warn successful applicants “must be willing and able to obtain a Government security clearance in New Zealand”. The company has been a regular fixture at university careers fairs since 2013.

And a brief item in the military magazine Army News in 2012 stated a trial of the company’s software was being piloted, but this wasn’t the first time it had been deployed in New Zealand.

“Palantir intelligence software is in use with a number of our domestic and foreign partners,” Army News said.

I’ve heard the company (and Thiel’s association) coming up in past coverage of GCSB and legislation issues.

The company became controversial in the United States over its close working relationship with the NSA in building programs designed to draw together disparate datasets – many obtained from widespread surveillance.

“Palantir’s technology is dual-purpose,” says Intercept security director Morgan Marquis-Boire, who noted it was put to some controversial uses – including recent news it was assisting the identification of undocumented migrants for deportation action by United States authorities.

“They’re sometimes the front-end search box for that great dragnet in the sky,” he said.

Morgan said the adoption of Palantir by New Zealand agencies was not surprising given the long-standing intelligence-sharing alliance with the United States, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom. “I can’t say I’m surprised, given Five Eyes,” he said.

So is it an issue, or does it just make a good story?

The influence of Thiel – who was revealed by the Herald to have been awarded New Zealand citizenship under exceptional circumstance provision by the then-Minister of Internal Affairs in 2011 – on Palantir is obvious.

The renewed interest in Thiel and Palantir seems to due to Thiel’s close connections to Donald Trump. If it wasn’t for that I doubt it would have been given much if any attention.

27 Comments

  1. Blazer

     /  March 10, 2017

    Spying is John Keys legacy,along with promoting the rentier society.From Fletcher at the GCSB,to Palantir/Thiel and the frequent sightings of U.S secret service airplane in Wellington….you don’t need to be a genius to join the whorls of the ex P.M.

    • Corky

       /  March 10, 2017
    • Pickled Possum

       /  March 10, 2017

      • Officials recommended then-Minister Nathan Guy approve the application, despite Thiel’s neither living in New Zealand nor intending to do so, arguing his entrepreneurial skill and philanthropic deeds meant his case was exceptional.

      • Guy, who said after news Thiel’s citizenship broke “I don’t recall this specific application”, this week refused an interview about the case.

      Nz has been lead around by the nose by MP’s and PM’s who live in a hazy fog of ‘don’t recall can’t remember an who really GAFF.’
      Can’t wait for the movie to come out. No doubt directed by P Jackson.
      Corruption is the word for our present and past governments, while they have screwed us, the unsuspecting public right royally over.

      Thiel’s display of monetary power in the Hulkster saga does not make him some one I want to have all our dirty little secrets. That particular saga Gawker Hulk and a sad undercover gay bro, now that would be a good movie. Martin Scorsese would be the perfect director, screen writer, producer and with his historical abilities be pretty much on point. 😉

  2. Nelly Smickers

     /  March 10, 2017

    From what you read in the *MSM*, it sounds like Mr Thiel is as *thin skinned* as Trumpy 😄

    It’s been reported that to get back at the American Gossip Site *GAWKER*, for outing him as gay in 2007, and generally mocking him, Peter funded the successful breach-of-privacy action brought by the wrestler *Hulk Hogan*….who won a *$140 million judgement* in May last year that drove Gawker into bankruptcy ❗

    • Corky

       /  March 10, 2017

      If the Hulkster’s sex tape is anything to go by he will need that 140 mill for sex lessons.

      Lesson 1- When having sex forget your smart phone.

      MrThiel has shown us where the real power of money lies..

      • Anonymous Coward

         /  March 10, 2017

        OOOH, you watched it?

        • Corky

           /  March 10, 2017

          Yes,I did. And I must say……the comedy was titillating…not the sex. I felt cheated.

          • Anonymous Coward

             /  March 10, 2017

            Lesson is that if you’re going to service the wife of a cuckold scan the room for cameras first. He’s not going to be worried about your best angles.

    • Anonymous Coward

       /  March 10, 2017

      That’s old news. Thiel’s money in that case wasn’t a magic bullet, Gawker were always going to lose.

      • Nelly Smickers

         /  March 10, 2017

        If you say so AC/DC 😄

      • Anonymous Coward

         /  March 10, 2017

        Also, fake news (ish), whilst he won a judgement of $140 million that was appealed and Gawker subsequently settled for $31 million.

        • Pickled Possum

           /  March 10, 2017

          Really!!!! All these people getting millions for hurt feelings.

          • Nelly Smickers

             /  March 10, 2017

            *ONLY IN AMERIKA*, eh Pickled ❗ LOL 😄

          • Anonymous Coward

             /  March 10, 2017

            Having a sex tape that was recorded without your knowledge being plastered all over the internet goes beyond ‘hurt feelings’.
            The biggest shame about Gawker settling and folding is that they also settled with Dr Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims he invented email, he has subsequently gone on to sue Techdirt for defamation over their stories that outline exactly how he didn’t invent email. This case will more than likely be the end of them. He is a serial litigant over this matter, but up till now everyone has settled leaving his story unchecked.

            • Pickled Possum

               /  March 10, 2017

              Butt AC the case is just heating up and we will see who the winners will be at the conclusion of this case.
              With Techdirt calling for funds to fight this case and the issues are “expressions of opinion protected by the first Amendment”.
              The Anti-Slapp law will give Techdirt the tools to continue on.
              Gawker settling seemed to me to be the only way to fight a billionaire and his lots of money.
              With Ayyadurai getting $750.000 of monies as part of the Hulk Hogan settlement and not the $35million Ayyadurai asked for.
              The lawyer for Ayyadurai, Hogan and journalist Ashley Terrill is Charles Harder. Paid by Peter Thiel.
              Is this another “example of a prominent individual using aggressive legal tactics to silence media outlets”

              https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170216/17220136729/techdirt-survival-fund-i-support-journalism.shtml
              Thank goodness that doesn’t happen here in Godzone … much.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  March 10, 2017

              In this case neither side looks good, Thiel is Thiel but Gawker was pretty unscrupulous in what it decided to publish, and don’t forget they were facing three simultaneous lawsuits that, while ultimately being funded by Thiel, were not brought by Thiel. If they kept attracting lawsuits at that rate they were going to run out of money fast anyway, and why did they attract so many lawsuits?

            • Pickled Possum

               /  March 10, 2017

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiva_Ayyadurai#Gawker
              Ayyadurai is calling ‘racism’ on this.

            • Anonymous Coward

               /  March 10, 2017

              “”I’m the low-caste, dark-skinned, Indian, who DID invent #email. Not Raytheon, who profits for war & death.Their mascot Tomlinson dies a liar”

              Lucky for him the dead can’t sue.

    • Nelly Smickers

       /  March 10, 2017

      When you think that it was this *article linked below*, published by GAWKER in 2007, that supposedly upset *Mr T*, the claims of him being a bit ‘thin skinned’ sort of ring true.

      IMHO, when you read what GAWKER had to say, it all seems *pretty innocuous*really ?

      http://gawker.com/335894/peter-thiel-is-totally-gay-people.html

  3. High Flying Duck

     /  March 10, 2017

    Says it all really: