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This article was published on December 21, 2016

Peter Thiel may just be the biggest douche of 2016

Peter Thiel may just be the biggest douche of 2016
Lauren Gilmore
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Lauren Gilmore

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Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in c Dog owner, expat, gin lover. Allegedly wise to the ways of PR, digital marketing and social media. Currently waging a war on mediocrity in communication and storytelling. Find me on Twitter or email me.

Silicon Valley mogul and Trump fanboy transition advisor, Peter Thiel may have, once again, proven that he is the biggest douchebag of the year.

Not only does he think higher education is a waste of time, he’s also so disenfranchised by the real world that he invested in the Seasteading Institute – dedicated to setting up floating anarchic utopias.

Lest we forget, he thinks it’s cool to sue media companies into obscurity when they write things he doesn’t like (sorry boss).

And no one was really that surprised when Thiel announced he was a steadfast Trump supporter.

Thiel is no stranger to controversy. And when the tech billionaire joined Donald Trump’s transition team, the concerns over potential conflicts of interest were only beginning to be raised.

As co-founder of data-mining firm Palantir, Thiel has contracts with the Department of Justice, the Department of Defense, and the Central Intelligence Agency, to name but a few. While members of Trump’s transition team should be required to step aside from projects they could personally benefit from, Thiel declined to confirm he actually agreed to such terms.

That there is such a requirement is quite surprising given that Trump, himself, has refused to adhere to White House traditions such as creating blind trusts for personal holdings – instead opting to have his children to run the show. But that’s a story in and of itself… back to the d-bag at hand.

According to The Verge, Palantir provides vast amounts of secret assistance to government agencies that track and evaluate immigrants. And the information provided may be used in Trump’s quest for ‘extreme vetting’.

A Palantir-based system – known as the Analytical Framework for Intelligence (AFI) – gathers information from a variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement databases that collects and analyze often-sensitive details about people. These details include “biographical information, personal associations, travel itineraries, immigration records, and home and work addresses, as well as fingerprints, scars, tattoos, and other physical traits.”

So what’s the issue? Shouldn’t all visitors to America (and everyone for that matter) be subjected to vetting? Well, yes. To a point. But as John Tran, an attorney for the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), explained to The Verge:

AFI generates risk assessments for travellers, but we don’t know how the scores are being generated and what the factors are. What if there’s an error? Users should have an opportunity to correct the error, users should have an opportunity to understand what goes into generating the score.

To Tran, that’s one of the most troubling aspects of AFI — how little the public knows about the program.

But that’s not all.

According to The Intercept, Thiel has multiple opportunities to profit from deportations.

Palantir also has a $3.4 million contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) to build and maintain the departments own intelligence system. FALCON, just like AFI, stores and analyzes information from various government databases and will be used agents within ICE’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) – which has conducted some of the agency’s most controversial immigration raids.

So as the litany of odd-ball (and downright dangerous) things Thiel associates himself with continues to grow, this is just one more proverbial ‘fuck you’ from Thiel to the rest of the world.

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