Palantir worked with Cambridge Analytica on the Facebook data it acquired, whistleblower alleges

Key Points
  • Palantir allegedly worked with Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the center of a controversy involving data harvested from Facebook users, according to whistleblower Christopher Wylie.
  • Palantir worked on the Facebook data that was acquired by Cambridge Analytica, Wylie claims.
  • But there was no official contract between the two firms.
  • Palantir was co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel.
Whistleblower claims Palantir worked with Cambridge Analytica on the Facebook data breach

Palantir, a secretive company co-founded by billionaire Peter Thiel, worked with Cambridge Analytica, the political analysis firm that harvested data from Facebook users, whistleblower Christopher Wylie told U.K. lawmakers Tuesday.

Wylie claimed that Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was introduced to Palantir by Sophie Schmidt, the daughter of former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Thiel, who has not been accused of any wrongdoing, was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, said Nix had "several meetings" with Palantir.

"Senior Palantir employees" then worked on the Facebook profile data that was acquired by Cambridge Analytica, Wylie claimed.

"That was not an official contract between Palantir and Cambridge Analytica, but there were Palantir staff that would come into the office and work on that data," Wylie told lawmakers. He added that Palantir staff "helped build the models we were working on."

Wylie did not elaborate on the "models" being worked on but it relates to Cambridge Analytica's algorithms used to target people in political votes.

A spokesperson for Palantir told CNBC the company has never had a relationship with Cambridge Analytica and has never worked on any Cambridge Analytica data. Cambridge Analytica was not immediately available for comment.

Last year, The Observer newspaper reported that Cambridge Analytica and Palantir had meetings in 2013. According to the report, at least one senior Palantir employee consulted with Cambridge Analytica regarding a project in Trinidad and political work in the United States. Palantir decided against it, according to the British newspaper.

Wylie gave testimony about the scandal in which 50 million Facebook profiles were mined for data that was harvested by an app, which shared the information with Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica claimed it worked on all the digital aspects of Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign. Thiel is a well-known supporter of Trump and donated over $1 million to his campaign. He is also on the board of Facebook. Steve Bannon, who was a top executive at Cambridge Analytica, led Trump's campaign.

Palantir has previously done work for the National Security Agency and is backed by the CIA's not-for-profit venture capital firm. Palantir's CEO Alex Karp, who is also not accused of wrongdoing, was also one of the technology executives who was at a meeting with Trump in December 2016.