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Banjo suspends state surveillance contracts after report details founder’s white supremacist past

Following an explosive report about the dark past of its founder and CEO Damien Patton, Utah-based company Banjo is facing a backfire in its own backyard. After tellings of Patton’s former ties to a sprig of the KKK came to daybreak, Utah’s attorney general and the University of Utah freeze their relationships with the company. Now, the company will suspend all of its contracts in the state.

Following the actions by the state AG’s office, Banjo announced today that it would suspend all of its state contracts in Utah,” not absorbing any government data or plying any services to government entities” until an audit could be conducted. Banjo signed a $20.7 million contract with the commonwealth of Utah in 2019, a relationship set to straddle five years.

“The Utah Attorney General’s office is appalled and dismayed at reports that Banjo’s founder had any affiliation with any hate group or groups in his youth ,” Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ place said in a statement provided to TechCrunch.” Neither the AG nor anyone in the AG’s office were aware of these affiliations or activities. They are indefensible. He has said so himself.”

In the investigation on Patton, OneZero revealed that not only did Patton have ties to active KKK representatives at persons under the age of 17, but that in 1990 he drove a automobile past a synagogue in a Nashville suburb while a KKK member shot at the building. Following the incident, he reportedly went into hiding at a white supremacist training camp. According to the reporting, Patton’s relationship with white supremacists continued into his adulthood after he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, though Patton enclose those ties as only during his youth, after he” was take place within” by white supremacists while living on the street.

In a statement to TechCrunch and published on the company’s blog, Patton conveyed sorrow for his actions while not immediately addressing how his violent, activist past never came up when telling his own story as a benefactor 😛 TAGEND

I have worked every day to be a responsible member of society. I’ve constructed companies, filled hundreds and have worked to treat everyone around me equally. In recent years, I’ve sought to create engineerings that stop human suffering and save lives without violating privacy. I is a well-known fact that I will never be able to erase my past but I work hard every day to make up for mistakes. This is something I will never stop doing.

Once a proximity social networking app, Banjo pivoted in recent years to become a real-time intelligence stage for police departments and public officials. Its core make, Live Time, claims to offer” life-saving information in seconds” in order to mobilize emergency responses, but has faced criticism for its surveillance-driven mission. As Vice recently mentioned, the company’s desire to conduct real-time AI-powered monitoring on public surveillance camera feeds is” something that has panicked security and civil liberties professionals for years .”

Reyes noted that while he” belief[ s] Mr. Patton’s pity is sincere ,” the Utah AG’s office would suspend its use of Banjo while a third-party investigates the state’s implementation for” issues like data privacy and possible bias ,” suggesting that other state enterprises using Banjo should follow suit.

” Banjo’s goal is to save lives and minimize human suffering to help firstly responders in emergency situations although it is not occupying people’s civil liberties and claims ,” the company wrote in a blog pole announcing plans to pause state contracts.” We are looking forward to the audit to show that we can build technology to help save lives and protect people’s liberties .”

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