How Workers Are Fighting Back Against Big Tech

On September 13 more than a hundred activists participated in a bicoastal protest at Palantir’s two headquarters, in New York City and in Palo Alto, California. The intent of the protest was to bring awareness to the tech company’s involvement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which Palantir provides with data-mining software that’s been used to screen undocumented immigrants and plan raids.

While the events put pressure on such Palantir higher-ups as the CEO, Alex Karp, and its co-founder Peter Thiel, the billionaire investor and Donald Trump ally, the messaging was geared to Palantir workers themselves. At the Palo Alto action, concentration camp–style barbed wire fencing was placed outside the company’s offices, and then an afternoon rally was held in front of one of Karp’s houses. “Palantir, you know it’s true / The crimes of ICE depend on you,” chanted marchers. The Manhattan action, led by the group Jews for Economic and Racial Justice, called on Karp, who is Jewish, to honor the approaching high holidays by not repeating mistakes of the past.

“During the Holocaust, IBM used the latest technology to aggregate census information, which was used to identify Jews around Europe,” said Abby Stein, one of the organizers, to the crowd. “What if the workers at IBM had said no? How many lives would have been saved? What if the workers at Palantir say no now? How many families would be kept whole?”

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