Beware of Data Collectors

The days of untrammelled data collection “for the common good” might be ending. At least the watchdogs are yapping a little louder, as a new court case in London shows. The British National Health Service apparently has a contract with secretive American data analyst company Palantir, and they are being sued by a private privacy watchdog.

I would probably not choose to name my company after the device with which the dark lord Sauron subverted the wizard Saruman. However, the Lord of the Rings reference is obviously lost on investors, who value Palanatir at around $50 billion even though they have yet to make money.

As a CIO, you need to know where your data goes. If you have third parties analyzing them, you need to have someone make an independent assessment of whether you can expect your data to be safe with them. You need to balance the reward against the reputational risk if you are found cooperating with shady operators.