back to article How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit? Let's call Peter Thiel! AI biz Palantir – you're hired

The UK government has enlisted controversial US AI biz Palantir in a bid to "mitigate and manage potential disruption at the border" as the country's departure from the EU comes into force. According to documents seen by The Guardian, Palantir, co-founded by Trump-backing Peter Thiel, has been contracted by the Cabinet Office …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit?

    You hire someone who is politically and ideologically aligned with your world view.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit?

      Although it's a much harder job when the "criminals, drug dealers, rapists" you are rounding up to put in cages are all blue-eyed blonde English speaking europeans.

      Might need some software updates

      1. harmjschoonhoven

        Re: How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit?

        No need to update the software. The blood of all their victims clients is red.

        1. bitwise

          Re: How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit?

          He only drinks the blood of the young though.

          https://www.theregister.com/2016/08/01/peter_thiel_wants_young_blood_for_longevity/

    2. don't you hate it when you lose your account Silver badge

      Re: How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit?

      At least their trying to get some forms of intelligence in all of this and what can go wrong with beta software. Keep calm and remember the empire

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge

        Re: How do you solve 'disruption' at the UK border after Brexit?

        British or Star Wars? The latter is all about exploitable bugs in untested technology

  2. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    For a start we should probably start arresting French border patrol boats for escorting sinking migrant dinghies into UK waters.

    1. Chris G Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Hmm

      If you are going down that route, the navy and coastguard can start confiscating Spanish fishing boats close to British waters.

      It may be a good start to the UK having a fishing fleet again.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm

        >It may be a good start to the UK having a fishing fleet again.

        Don't understand the weird fetishism over fishing, the money's terrible, the work dangerous, the stock which Brits actually eat permanently depleted and the UK's fishing quotas were sold off (by UK gov) to a handful of hedge funds years ago who are the only people in the mix who see a real guaranteed profit.

        I'm not sure you'll find a huge queue forming to risk life and limb for 10K a year - on the hope that 10 years down the line you might make 30k as a skipper....aside from the tech having moved on a bit, a single super trawler is a match for an entire fishing community back in the halycon days the flag shaggers seem to think we're returning to.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          Would love to but I'm currently training for one of the highly rewarding careers in the turnip picking industry - now that the Eu no longer forces all these cushy jobs to go to foreigners.

          1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: Hmm

            > Would love to but I'm currently training for one of the highly rewarding careers in the turnip picking industry

            You do know that you're not allowed to snigger at the funny-shaped ones until after you have completed your apprenticeship?

        2. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          @AC

          "Don't understand the weird fetishism over fishing"

          i dont get it either. But then I prefer office work. Different interests for different people.

          "the stock which Brits actually eat permanently depleted"

          Not sure its permanent but the reduction in fishing stocks seemed to be attributable to EU regulations from what I read. Alternatively leasing areas would probably work better since they make more money by actually having fish vs just meeting a quota by politicians.

          1. First Light Bronze badge

            Re: Hmm

            There is no way the reduction in fish stocks is due to EU regs. The regs are there to save whatever is left of the stock after overfishing, some of which may be from illegal Russian or Chinese supertrawlers.

            You may mean reductions in permissible catches under EU regs. That will change post Brexit, but the number of fish in the sea will continue to diminish unless sustainable international fishing targets are agreed upon and enforced by everyone.

            How this horribly incompetent Westminster cabinet manages its fishing stocks, or anything else after Brexit, remains to be seen. I'm not encouraged.

            https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/aug/18/where-did-all-the-cod-go-fish-chips-north-sea-sustainable-stocks

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Hmm

              @First Light

              "There is no way the reduction in fish stocks is due to EU regs. The regs are there to save whatever is left of the stock after overfishing, some of which may be from illegal Russian or Chinese supertrawlers."

              The regs might be there with the best intentions but its the consequences that matter. Just as the gov might have the best intentions with its covid advice while making an amusing/irritating mess.

              1. MiguelC Silver badge

                Re: the gov might have the best intentions with its covid advice

                best intentions? but for whom?

                1. Ken 16 Silver badge

                  Re: the gov might have the best intentions with its covid advice

                  Flipper

            2. James Anderson Silver badge

              Re: Hmm

              Well they have been managing it for the past 26 years.

              The goal seems to be achieving Mediterranean levels of over fishing in the North Sea.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmm

            >Not sure its permanent but the reduction in fishing stocks seemed to be attributable to EU regulations from what I read

            Everything bad is attributable to EU regulations according to most of our press.....industrial methods ensured stocks were almost wiped out long before EU tried to fix things - even so fish have proven uncooperative and refuse to stick to the borders.

        3. James Anderson Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          You have obviously never been to the Broch (Fraserborough).

          All five bedroom bungalows with four flash cars parked out front.

          Deep sea fishing pays spectacularly well if there is a good catch.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Hmm

            >You have obviously never been to the Broch (Fraserborough).

            Nope, know it quite well - it isn't fish that buys those properties. UK average salary for a fisherman is 30K with all certs/experience, you'll really start on 10K and are competing with agency crews from all over the world (including 3rd) who are better and cheaper than you. High end skippers might make £50K but will certainly earn it - much better money to be had at sea, especially in Aberdeen. Head over to FAFB for a little insight.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          The fishing fleet thing is the same as the Trumpian 'wall' thing - make a huge deal of an insignificant factor that has some sort of nationalistic tokenism involved, that way you can wheel it out every time you need to distract Joe/sephine public from whatever you're fscking up today...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      Your comment shows a real lack of understanding as to the serious, very real issues affecting our ability to control our borders. You should apply for a job at the Home Office. You seems to be well qualified !

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: apply for a job at the home office

        Would be funny but I get the impression Boris really will adopt Trump's hiring policy. Apparently 'taking back control' means doing whatever Thiel wants.

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @AC

        "Your comment shows a real lack of understanding as to the serious, very real issues affecting our ability to control our borders."

        Actually it is a serious problem that again occurred. People smuggling by a country that doesnt want them there so helps them enter another country illegally. Not missing how sick it is for them not to pick these people up from an overcrowded boat that is literally sinking as the French border patrol just watched.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          You have it completely backward my friend.

          These people have the right to board a dinghy in France or Belgium or wherever and have a nice little sail around the Channel waters.

          The French navy is not escorting them. They are keeping an eye on them to make sure they do not sink and drown, but under what pretence should they be stopping them? Just because Priti Patel and the Daily Mail readers *think* they are going to illegally enter UK waters?

          *Once* they actually enter the British waters, it's up to the British border force to enforce UK laws (while abiding by international treaties regarding refugees which the UK has ratified .. and Boris not yet decided to ignore), and out of the French hands.

          I have no idea why people think it'd be up to the French to police the UK borders. If the UK had not decided to sub-contract the policing of its borders to the other side of the channel 25 years or so ago, we wouldn't be where we are now.

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            @AC

            "These people have the right to board a dinghy in France or Belgium or wherever and have a nice little sail around the Channel waters."

            Erm, are you sure? If these people had the legal right to board the dinghy in those countries then they would also have the right to enter the UK via legal means. That people travel through multiple countries to illegally enter the UK from our neighbour countries is not their legal right.

            "The French navy is not escorting them. They are keeping an eye on them to make sure they do not sink and drown, but under what pretence should they be stopping them?"

            That is an interesting comment which does come with the reasonable position that we shouldnt even bother saving these people since it is the French allowing them to drown in UK waters. But as illegal migrants it is on the French to deal with them and not pass on the problem to the UK.

            https://metro.co.uk/2020/09/17/french-border-guards-escort-overcrowded-migrant-boat-into-uk-waters-13284642/

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmm

              I forgot that you need a permit to board a dinghy. Still, if the turnip picking doesn't work out, mabe after we sort Covid we can retrain the Covid Marshalls as dinghy permit checkers.

              1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

                Re: Hmm

                Most civilised countries seem to make an effort to stop people putting to sea in un-seaworthy vessels

          2. Chris G Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            Pootling around the Channel in unlicenced leisure craft like kayaks and dinghies in France is limited to a max of 300 metres and they enforce it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmm

              "Pootling around the Channel in unlicenced leisure craft like kayaks and dinghies in France is limited to a max of 300 metres..."

              Wrong. Where did you read that?

              1. Chris G Silver badge

                Re: Hmm

                Read it in a kayaking mag.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Hmm

                  I'd suggest you ask them to better check their facts:

                  https://www.randokayak.com/reglementation-du-kayak-de-mer/

          3. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            under what pretence should they be stopping them?

            Seems to me they're in breach of people trafficking laws, conspiracy to invade a foreign power and no doubt various nautical laws around healthy and safety.

            After all, if they weren't in danger they wouldn't need an escort.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          That just all sounds like something Farage,The Dingy Nonce would spout.

    3. Weylin

      Re: Hmm

      To send British border patrol boats into French territorial waters and "arrest" French law enforcement officers is not very clever.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @Weylin

        "To send British border patrol boats into French territorial waters and "arrest" French law enforcement officers is not very clever."

        I dont think it would be too big a problem. International law on asylum seeking puts the responsibility on the first safe country (which to us would be France, to France would be wherever they entered). By not intervening the Border guards are effectively supporting the illegal migration, or in this case intentionally allowing these migrants to sink in UK waters by refusing to intervene which puts the responsibility on them. We could even claim to be doing the French a favour by bringing these criminals to international courts to decide on the legality of their efforts. Maybe they could be tried for negligence or attempted murder as well as supporting the illegal crossing.

        After such a public shaming even if the border guards are considered innocent it might make a difference.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          Speechless - or am I missing the whoosh parrot? But if that's the way we are going, why focus on negligent enablement of border crossing? Why not nip over to Syria and arrest Assad for genocide, or Moscow and pick up Putin under the poison acts?

        2. Lon24

          Re: Hmm

          "International law on asylum seeking puts the responsibility on the first safe country"

          Which International Law is this please? Neither the 1951 Refugee Convention nor EU law requires a refugee to claim asylum in one country rather than another - https://www.amnesty.org.uk/truth-about-refugees

          Because some dishonest politicians keep claiming it - it doesn't make it true. But you should know that.

          1. Eclectic Man Bronze badge

            Re: Hmm

            I believe that a major problem is the UK's refusal to allow refugees to apply for asylum in the UK while being geographically in France. Were the UK to open an asylum claim processing facility in, say, Arles, or Toulouse, all the emigrants who wanted to come here would first go there to apply and there would be much less trouble on the Channel Crossings.

          2. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            @Lon24

            "Which International Law is this please? Neither the 1951 Refugee Convention nor EU law requires a refugee to claim asylum in one country rather than another - https://www.amnesty.org.uk/truth-about-refugees"

            I guess it comes down to interpretation then. While it isnt explicitly stated you must apply for asylum in the first safe country, you are no longer looking for asylum (fleeing the country from persecution etc) when you try to apply in the second, third, fourth, etc. After you reach a safe country you are an economic migrant if you then try to move to another and apply there.

            The EU stopped applying that as international law when Germany invited the middle east to move in and got overwhelmed.

            I will also point out that these people are criminals in that they are illegally trying to enter the UK. If that was from an unsafe country that would be acceptable obviously but unless you wish to claim that of France?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Hmm

              At the expense of invoking Godwin's law...

              So a Jewish refugee from Germany in 1938 should have stopped in France - how did that work out then?

              And wrong in fact. If a person seeking asylum failed to make themselves known to authorities, and claim asylum at the first opportunity after they entered the UK, they have committed an offence. But crossing the channel, getting off the boat and walking to a police station and asking for asylum is legal. If you take half a a second to think about it, no asylum system would work if crossing a border was criminal per se.

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Hmm

                @AC

                "So a Jewish refugee from Germany in 1938 should have stopped in France - how did that work out then?"

                Was France at war at that point and was France considered a safe country?

                "But crossing the channel, getting off the boat and walking to a police station and asking for asylum is legal."

                Yes. If you are claiming asylum you can illegally enter a country to then go and ask to stay. Hmm but I dont like this one so I will go to the next and the next illegally crossing from safe country to safe country... that is a migrant crossing illegally. No longer fleeing but instead being picky about where they would like to live.

                https://www.continentaltelegraph.com/2020/09/casuistry-at-the-huffington-post-about-refugees/

          3. Cederic Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            Irrespective of the law, I think there's a straightforward analysis possible: Did this illegal immigrant enter the UK from a country considered safe for them to live in?

            Since they're all coming from France the answer is 'yes' and they should all be delivered straight back.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Hmm

        >To send British border patrol boats into French territorial waters and "arrest" French law enforcement officers is not very clever.

        Nor possible the French Navy (10k+ pers bigger and better equipped than ours) and Maritime Gendarmerie wouldn't like it. Though it would be funny watching Raab going cap in hand to Paris asking if we can please have our River Class back as they're actually leased and their owner is cross we've lost them.

  3. rd232
    Big Brother

    Palantir

    ...if only there were some clue that this chuffing company was not to be trusted with our data.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Palantir

      How dare you speak that way about the Heros Of Brexit/Covid!!!!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: You can't

      Ever heard of Cambridge Analytica?

      https://mashable.com/2018/03/22/facebook-peter-thiel-cambridge-analytica/?europe=true

    3. Woodnag

      GDPR?

      The contract details will be interesting from GDPR perspective. If any processing is done outside EU, it's probably illegal from the get go, plus deliberate UK gov policy because 5 eyes.

      Bet there aren't any mandatory monetary penalties in case of data flow 'accidents'.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: GDPR?

        We have taken back control! We can now stick it to Europe by sending all our personal details straight to Thiel in the US of Trumpistan. Now say how much you love big brother before Miniluv sends you to a joycamp.

      2. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: GDPR?

        " If any processing is done outside EU, it's probably illegal"

        Not if protected by adequate safeguards (GDPR Chapter V).

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: GDPR?

          Which the USA does not have, by law.

          (Ours and theirs)

          1. Eclectic Man Bronze badge

            Re: GDPR?

            There are National Security clauses in GDPR (and in the previous Data Protection Act) permitting government organisations to process personal information 'in the national interest', which managing 'our' borders counts as.

            But I am confused, several years ago there was a government procurement for an electronic borders system to manage people coming into and leaving the UK, surely that system could just be enhanced a bit to cope with freight, or was it the resounding success that so many major UK Government IT procurements become?

            1. Ken 16 Silver badge

              Re: GDPR?

              Those only apply to EU member states, third countries don't get to hand European data over to their, possibly dodgy, governments and still be Regulation compliant.

              1. Eclectic Man Bronze badge

                Re: GDPR?

                "Those only apply to EU member states, third countries don't get to hand European data over to their, possibly dodgy, governments and still be Regulation compliant."

                I thought that the 'National Security' card trumped everything, as it is being done by a sovereign state, rather than a private company. OK so HMG can be prosecuted for breaching GDPR, but the defence of acting in the 'National interest' or 'National security' applies, much like the personal defence of acting in 'the public interest' can apply when, for example, journalists refuse to divulge their sources of government or state actor wrongdoing.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: GDPR?

                  But the sovereign state is sub-contracting to a private, US company.

                2. Ken 16 Silver badge

                  Re: GDPR?

                  In the UK yes but what if an EU citizen takes the issue to their own Data Commissioner who then rules against the British government? The British could challenge that ruling in the Court of Justice (currently not being recognised by the UK) but if that fails there could be a block on any EU data going to UK processors.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Palantir?

    The outfit with the toxic IPO and bogus technology? What's wrong with Autonomy?

  5. First Light Bronze badge

    Pathetic Palantir Plan

    An epic fail in the making with this last-minute, "Hail Mary" effort. How can Palantir even pretend they will be able to accomplish this in the time frame?

    After four years of Trump/Brexit, I think I'm becoming numb. Superlatives have lost their meaning.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pathetic Palantir Plan

      Indeed, it seems the feckety fecking feckers are running the asylum now. Don't be too surprised if the Orange One wins a second term*.

      * Just four more years and I'll get that steel mill re-opened. Honest!

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: accomplish this in the time frame

      What makes you think there is the slightest intention of delivering anything useful to the UK on time?

      1. Ken 16 Silver badge

        Re: accomplish this in the time frame

        A loaded revolver and a bottle of brandy?

        I'm just trying to think what might be useful to the UK in January.

  6. Jonathon Green
    Coat

    So we’ll be getting a world lead Truck and Trace application?

  7. Roger Kynaston Bronze badge
    Flame

    palantir

    I would have thought that Christopher Tolkien could sue Peter Thiel for breach of copyright or some such.

    As to what our benighted ministers/spads/spivs are up to. I am beyond despair now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: palantir

      Christopher Tolkien? He’s dead Jim.

  8. James Anderson Silver badge

    It will all end in tears

    Using fancy AI for a basic book keeping tasks.

    Enter goods: type quantity and value.

    Change VAT if type not VAT-exempt

    Charge extra tariff if tariffs apply to type

    Send bill

    How is AI going to apply to such a plodding business logic.

    1. Ken 16 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: It will all end in tears

      Because Blockchain

  9. xyz

    This drives me nuts...

    You can fart around with all sorts of gov sponsored crap on the blighty side of the channel to finesse whatever. The problem is "we" are a third country as of next year and that means checks and paperwork and queues. Forget traffic jams and think of the ferry jam.

  10. H in The Hague Silver badge

    Financial stability <-> public service contracts

    If a remember an earlier El Reg article about this contractor correctly they've been loss-making for years. How sustainable is that? I thought that financial stability was one of the requirements when tendering for UK public sector contracts:

    https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/900525/MSC-Guidance-2020.pdf

    Any public procurement wizards out there who can enlighten us?

    1. Jonathon Green
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Financial stability <-> public service contracts

      My working assumption is that they’re the Air America of technology companies....

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_America_(airline)

  11. Silverburn

    Deploying AI will be the first piece of intelligence actually applied to Brexit.

  12. HildyJ Silver badge
    Devil

    Border Flow Toolkit

    Consisting of five days worth of Soylent, a sleeping bag, and a battery operated radio.

  13. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Meh

    Before the common market it was easy

    One of my tasks back then was to check that all the line cords included with equipment shipped to the EU did not have a wall plug fitted and used the EU wire colours, not the UK wire colours. We're just going back to those days, there will be a nice little list of things to check for all exports and imports and, once the UK laws and the EU laws evolve, we'll have to start stocking EU legal items and UK legal items. Brexit is not causing complexities, we're just returning to the old days of complexities - I'm confident that was what the Brexiters were thinking when they said that Brexit would be easy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Before the common market it was easy

      You think Brexiteers did any thinking? Really?

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Before the common market it was easy

        It obvious that none of them had every had ever done any work before we joined the EU that involved import/export paperwork or ensuring that goods met multiple standards. Any mention of these issues before the referendum was completely ignored, I don't think that most public schoolboys ever get jobs that actually involve real work.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Brexit toilet

    Just keeps on giving up its foul stench.

    Bwahahahahahahahaaaaaa

  15. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Brexit freight system 'won't be ready on time'

    "But the government now says "beta" is a standard labelling practice for a digital service that is fully operational."

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-54172222

    No Comment

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