Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Nov 24, 2018 10:15 pm

Ian Lucas MP

This week Facebook will learn that all are subject to the rule of law. Yes, even them.

Carole Cadwalladr

AMERICA: Everything about this story is extraordinary. This almost never happens. UK Parliament sent sergeant-at-arms to US citizen’s hotel to seize internal Facebook docs alleged to contain explosive revelations relating to Cambridge Analytica data abuse

...or to put it another way, there's a touch of the Robin Hood about
, the MP who's done this. It's such a bold & audacious move. Remember this paragraph from explosive
article about equivalent committee in the US? Yeah, well. That ain't worked here...


Jos Bell

knows - the dude at the front with the Mace is the Parly Sarjeant at Arms. I've met him and he is even taller than he looks in this pic. Zuckerberg wouldn't have stood a chance.


Viktor Burakov

I'm British by birth but have absolutely no idea how serious this is for Facebook, if at all. Never in my 56 years have I heard of Parliament sending a sergeant-at-arms to force the handover of documents. I didn't even know it could. Can anybody help educate me?


Carole Cadwalladr

Verified account

3h3 hours ago
Potentially explosive...
@DamianCollins has set off a bomb beneath Facebook
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Nov 27, 2018 12:13 pm

Damian Collins

Verified account

10h10 hours ago
Damian Collins Retweeted Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee
Information for tomorrow's Grand Committee below. Very pleased to announce that Karine Lalieux, Parliament of B

"You knew that app developers were sharing information, and the only time you took action is when you were found out." @IanCLucas vs. Richard Allan.

NEW: Facebook responds to UK parliament's seizure of internal docs. It is getting its lines of attack out there. This is copy of its letter to @DamianCollins that it has just sent me...

“An engineer at Facebook notified the company in October 2014 that entities with a Russian IP address were pulling 3 billion data points a day [from your website]. “

4h4 hours ago

This is new information that was discovered in the documents seized from Facebook yesterday

Magnificent shade being thrown by parliament.
MP to Facebook's lobbyist, Lord Allan:
"Lord Allan you are a member of parliament. How do you think it looks that Mark Zuckerberg didn't turn up to to answer questions to parliament today?"
Lord Allan: "Not great."

"Has Facebook ever targeted a developer and removed it from the platform so that Facebook could profit from an increased market position?" No, says Allan.

Follow the Guardian's liveblog here & follow @profcarroll & @jason_kint for live coverage of this critical Facebook hearing with representatives from 9 parliaments

Paul Farrelly MP: "I've read the summary of these documents and the thought I have is RICO. Racketeering. What do you say to that?" ... 8030776320

Paul Farrelly: "Has Facebook ever taken advice on possible RICO offences?"
Lord Allan: "Not that I'm aware of"

Canadian MP: Did facebook ever tell app developers they need to buy mobile ads otherwise their access to friend data will be cut off?"
This hearing is on fire
He's now got out the full flamethrower. "Does it occur to you that Facebook might have become of these bad actors?"
"No," said Lord Allan. "I don't believe we are." Even he doesn't sound quite sure any ore...

Lord Allan: "The people I work with are decent and sincere and I don't recognise this description of the idea that people at the company are operating some vast conspiracy."

"Who at Facebook suggested you come today?" Lord Allan: "I volunteered."
"Really?So you've read all the answers given in parliament and all the times, Facebook said 'I'll write to you with that answer.' Yet how many times have you said today, 'I'll with to you with that answer'?"

Astonishing answer from Lord Allan giving his opinion on what may or may not have been of consequence or affected the result of the US election.

Canadian MP: "What's being described here sounds like corporate fraud. Perhaps the simplest form of regulation would be to break Facebook up. Will Zuck talk anti-trust?"
Lord Allan: "It depends on the problem we are trying to solve"
MP: "What if the problem is Facebook?"

Lord Allan: "We can't turn the internet off."
@DamianCollins: "The internet is not Facebook."
Final words. Hearing over. Pretty much sums it up.

Press conference: @damiancollins "We're not yet ready to publish the seized documents because we need to go through them properly/redact etc. I promise you we will publish them. Very soon. Certainly within the next week."

Canadian Bob Zimmer: We represent 400 million. Let that sink in. We need to hear from the CEO. He made the decisions. There were so many questions that were not answered."

This goes to the nub of the whole thing
@DamianCollins: "Hugely disrespectful of Zuck not to show up. Facebook should tell the court to seal the docs. What does Facebook have to hide? "

CNN @hadasgold: "How did you know Mr Kramer was in the country?" @DamianCollins: "We learned he was in the country. And we'd obviously been following the case."

.@damiancollins asked if he "violated legal norms" by seizing the docs. Collins says committee followed established procedure, believed docs contained vital info of public interest, & that Facebook had failed repeatedly to answer its qs. "The buck stops with zuck"

Bob Zimmer, Canada MP: "Facebook still don't get it. Question is if they are pretending to not get it."

Great question from @aliya__ram: "I'd to talk about anti-trust. There are eight countries represented here. Could we have a show of hands how many of you think that Facebook should be broken up?"

.@DamianCollins on the docs: "Clearly huge public interest about issues that are fundamental to the way Facebook works" And he throws it back at Facebook. Suggests onus should be on Facebook to withdraw anti-SLAPP petition to the US judge & let docs be published ... 8030776320

Facebook’s PR writes...
Seems to say: ‘Yes, Russia hacked millions of our users’ accounts. But when we checked, they didn’t seem to have done it again’
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:02 pm

Israeli hackers reportedly gave Cambridge Analytica stolen private emails of two world leaders

Rosie Perper

Cambridge Analytica, the political-research company at the center of a massive Facebook-data scandal, received private emails of two world leaders from Israeli hackers.
In one instance, Israeli hackers brought a USB stick which included private information about a Nigerian opposition leader, who is now president, to Cambridge Analytica's offices.
The same Israeli cybersecurity team was reportedly hired again in early 2015, and obtained private information on a St. Kitts and Nevis politician who was elected prime minister.
Israeli hackers reportedly gave information from the hacked emails of two world leaders to Cambridge Analytica, the political-research company at the center of a massive Facebook-data scandal.

Cambridge Analytica received data from the hacked emails of Nigeria's now-President Muhammadu Buhari and now-Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis Timothy Harris, during separate election campaigns in the countries, The Guardian reported, citing several ex-employees of the company.

The company's leadership reportedly encouraged use of the data, offered by Israeli hackers, with ousted CEO Alexander Nix, along with other senior directors, giving employees direction on how to handle the material.

Cambridge Analytica was reportedly paid £2 million ($2.8 million) in 2015 by a Nigerian billionaire to support a campaign to re-elect Goodluck Jonathan as president of Nigeria, according to the report.

"It was the kind of campaign that was our bread and butter," one ex-employee told The Guardian. "We're employed by a billionaire who's panicking at the idea of a change of government and who wants to spend big to make sure that doesn't happen."

Former Cambridge Analytica staff told The Guardian that they met Israeli cybersecurity agents in their London offices in early 2015.

According to the staff accounts, the hackers brought a USB stick reportedly filled with hacked personal emails, which included private information, including potential medical records, about then-Nigerian opposition leader Muhammadu Buhari, who is now president.

Staff members were alarmed by the information presented at the meeting, according to the report, which led them to refuse to implement the hacked data into their campaign.

The same Israeli cybersecurity team was reportedly hired again in early 2015, and obtained private information on St. Kitts and Nevis politician Timothy Harris, who was later elected prime minister.

In a previous incident, the parent group of Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group, reportedly used a £1 million ($1.4 million) bribe to help win an election for the St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party, who was a client, in 2010.

SCL Group denied using stolen data from the individuals mentioned in The Guardian report.

Executives from Cambridge Analytica, which helped Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, were caught on tape boasting about helping secure Trump's win.

Facebook recently suspended Cambridge Analytica for not destroying the private data of 50 million users it used to predict the behavior of individual American voters. ... ica-2018-3

Wendy Siegelman

There’s also an interesting connection to Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix who @annmarlowe identified worked at Robert Fraser & Partners, which was backed financially by Robert Maxwell


Ghislaine Maxwell, who procured underage girls and was the daughter of Mossad operative and UK publishing magnate Robert Maxwell – who was, in turn, the man allegedly responsible for getting Russian mafia don Semyon Mogilevich an Israeli passport and allowing his organized crime network to flourish around the world.


The episode also touches on corruption in Israel linked to Trump, including the relationship between Netanyahu and the Kushners, the role of Black Cube, the abuse of right of return privileges in Israel by criminals and oligarchs from the former USSR, and one-issue mega-donor Sheldon Adelson’s enormous influence of the GOP and policy in the Middle East.


Black Cube Israeli Intelligence
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:49 pm

Israeli Intelligence Company Formed Venture With Trump Campaign Firm Cambridge Analytica

Psy-Group is owned by entrepreneur Joel Zamel, who has been questioned by special-counsel investigators

By Byron Tau and Rebecca Ballhaus Updated May 23, 2018 1:00 a.m. ET
WASHINGTON—A company owned by Joel Zamel, an Israeli entrepreneur whose work has drawn the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller, formed a strategic partnership with a data firm for President Donald Trump’s campaign in a joint bid to win business from the U.S. government and other clients after the 2016 election, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Psy-Group, one of Mr. Zamel’s firms, signed a memorandum of understanding with Cambridge Analytica LLC, a digital media firm that helped propel Mr. Trump to the presidency, these people said. Facebook Inc. in March suspended Cambridge over allegations that it improperly harvested the data of millions of Facebook users, accusations that in part led to the firm’s closure earlier this month.

The Dec. 14, 2016, memorandum, as described to The Wall Street Journal, outlines a partnership whereby the two firms could cooperate on a case-by-case basis to provide intelligence and social-media services, or pitch business to an array of clients.

A person familiar with the work of Psy-Group, a private intelligence firm, said the partnership was intended in part to help win government contracts—something that Cambridge and its parent company, SCL Group, were aggressively seeking to do as their allies in the Trump administration took power, according to people familiar with the efforts.

The existence of the memorandum is an example of how the president’s allies sought to gain entry and influence in Washington after the election.

SCL Group won a $500,000 contract from the State Department starting in February 2017 aimed at providing “target audience research,” according to federal records. No government contracts have been awarded to the Psy-Group, according to public records, though not all government contracts—for example, in the arena of intelligence and foreign policy—are publicly disclosed.

A spokesman for SCL and for Cambridge Analytica didn’t respond to requests to comment.

Marc Mukasey, a lawyer for Mr. Zamel, said his client “had nothing to do with Cambridge Analytica.” He has previously said investigators have told him Mr. Zamel isn’t a target of the Mueller investigation.

A person familiar with the memo between Cambridge and Psy-Group, which was first reported by Bloomberg, said it was signed without Mr. Zamel’s involvement. It was unclear whether Mr. Zamel was aware of the deal at the time it was reached.

Mr. Zamel has met with Mr. Mueller’s investigators, who appear to have expanded their inquiries to questions about the influence of a Gulf monarchy during the 2016 election, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Mueller is investigating whether Trump associates colluded with Russia in the 2016 U.S. election. Mr. Trump denies colluding with Russia, and Moscow denies that it meddled in the election.

In the months before the 2016 election, Mr. Zamel met with Donald Trump Jr., Mr. Trump’s eldest son, at Trump Tower along with George Nader, a top adviser to the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, to discuss an offer from Messrs. Zamel and Nader to help boost the campaign, the Journal has previously reported. Mr. Zamel is said to be close to top officials in the U.A.E.

Cambridge Analytica earlier this month announced it was shutting down its operations, along with its U.S. and U.K. affiliates SCL Group and SCL Elections. The firm is liquidating its assets, an administrator for the firm said Tuesday.

Cambridge Analytica faced mounting legal fees in the U.K.’s investigation of the data firm and was rapidly losing clients, according to people familiar with the matter. In March, it suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after undercover journalists at British broadcaster Channel 4 released a video that depicted him describing campaign tactics he said the company had used, among them entrapping political opponents with bribes and sex.

In the video, Mr. Nix said Cambridge Analytica used Israeli companies in its campaign efforts. “We use some British companies, we use some Israeli companies,” he said. “From Israel. Very effective in intelligence gathering.”

Mr. Nix has said he regretted his role in the video, and Cambridge Analytica has said it didn’t use the tactics he described.

One person familiar with the work of both firms said Mr. Nix in the video appeared to be referring to Psy-Group, which does work that tracks closely with Mr. Nix’s description. The intelligence firm’s website says the company’s motto is “shape reality.”

Some of Psy-Group’s work involves setting up “honey traps”—real-world scenarios where people are caught saying embarrassing or incriminating things to gain leverage over them—sometimes using the promise of a romantic relationship as part of the approach, which often begins online, according to people familiar with the firm’s operations.

“The general aim is to get their trust, take that relationship to the next level,” said one person who was familiar with the company’s work. “In many cases, they are able to take that relationship offline. Then they can meet in real life.”

After the 2016 election, Cambridge Analytica aggressively pitched federal agencies, often partnering with larger corporations, according to a person familiar with the efforts.

A wave of negative publicity over the course of 2017 slowed the company’s efforts. When news first emerged last fall that Mr. Nix had contacted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during the election, some companies told Cambridge Analytica they no longer wanted its involvement in pitching the government, the person said. Recent revelations over the company’s alleged use of Facebook data brought about “the biggest drop-off,” the person said.

Sometime around 2014, Mr. Zamel began making contacts in the U.A.E., becoming close to the national security adviser there, people familiar with the matter said. A Zamel-owned consulting firm, Wikistrat, which aimed to crowdsource expert opinions on geopolitical problems for corporate clients and governments, conducted war-games scenarios for the government of the U.A.E., though many of the company’s employees remained in the dark about who they were working for, they said. Former employees say that it became increasingly clear that the U.A.E. government was one of the firm’s major clients.

At some point during this time period, Mr. Zamel also launched Psy-Group. In early 2016, the firm began using a London-based headhunter to look for a head of sales—possibly based in the U.S., according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The head of sales position was marked “confidential,” and a pitch in the documents described Psy-Group as a firm that is “founded and is managed by an experienced group of former high-ranking officers from elite units of some of the world’s most renowned intelligence agencies.”

“Their team has a proven track record in information gathering, analysis, research, special intelligence operations and technology in the physical and cyber domains,” the document said.

Mr. Zamel’s interest in running Wikistrat began to wane around the same time. The firm had one year of profitability, according to one person familiar with its balance sheets, and in 2015 had approximately $6 million in gross revenues, the person said. Mr. Zamel put Wikistrat up for sale in 2016, sending a prospectus to a number of companies looking for a buyer, according to a person who has seen the document.

The person said Mr. Zamel was seeking about $25 million for the company. It hasn’t found a buyer.

Corrections & Amplifications
Wikistrat was put up for sale in 2016. An earlier version of this article incorrectly said it had been put up for sale in 2015. (May 23)

Write to Byron Tau at and Rebecca Ballhaus at ... Nxl0y9KZwP
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby Grizzly » Thu Dec 06, 2018 8:19 pm

Look up AMDOCS and 911 ...^^^ I'VE tried to post about it for over an hour without success.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Dec 07, 2018 5:36 pm

David Carroll

Verified account

NEWS: I prevailed! Cambridge Analytica’s administrators attempting to liquidate have conceded to our concerns about my undisclosed data. They have 14 days to fully disclose. Have they misled the court? Matter referred to the High Court. Stay tuned. Thanks as always to @RaviNa1k

Image ... 7743793153

Robert Mueller got another cooperator

Sam Patten, an associate of Paul Manafort and Cambridge Analytica, struck a plea deal.

Andrew ProkopAug 31, 2018, 2:07pm EDT
The Mueller investigation has resulted in yet another plea deal. Sam Patten, a Republican lobbyist, pleaded guilty Friday to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act in his unregistered work for a Ukrainian politician and a Ukrainian oligarch — and agreed to cooperate with the government.

Patten was charged by the US attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. But Mueller’s team referred the investigation there and Patten’s plea agreement specifically says he must cooperate with the special counsel’s office. Andrew Weissmann, an attorney on Mueller’s team, attended Patten’s hearing Friday.

There are several similarities between Patten’s work and the unregistered Ukrainian lobbying allegations against Paul Manafort. Like Manafort, Patten worked for Ukraine’s pro-Russian political faction. Like Manafort, his payments went through offshore accounts in Cyprus.

Also like Manafort, Patten worked closely with Konstantin Kilimnik, a Russian national who Mueller claims is tied to Russian intelligence services. (Mueller indicted Kilimnik alongside Manafort this year for attempted witness tampering, but he is overseas and has not been arrested.)

Weissmann, who attended the Patten hearing, is Mueller’s lead attorney handling the prosecution of Manafort. Manafort was convicted of eight counts of financial crimes in Virginia last week, but he is scheduled to face another trial on conspiracy, unregistered lobbying, and witness tampering charges in Washington, DC, next month.

What Sam Patten pleaded guilty to doing

According to the criminal information document filed by the DC US attorney’s office, Patten and Kilimnik (who is not named but referred to as “Foreigner A”) founded a lobbying and consulting company together. They did campaign work in Ukraine and lobbying work in the US, and were paid over $1 million between 2015 and 2017.

Specifically, the document claims that Patten contacted members of Congress and their staffers, State Department officials, and members of the press on behalf of his Ukrainian clients — all without registering under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, as required by law.

Patten also admits to helping his Ukrainian oligarch client get around the prohibition on foreign donations to Donald Trump’s inauguration committee. The oligarch sent $50,000 to Patten’s company, and then he gave that money to a US citizen, who bought the four tickets. The tickets were given to the oligarch, Kilimnik, another Ukrainian, and Patten himself.

Finally, Patten also admits to misleading the Senate Intelligence Committee and withholding documents from them during testimony this January.

Who is Sam Patten?

Patten worked for George W. Bush’s State Department, and according to his website, he’s done work in Ukraine, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Iraq, and Russia. He also worked as the Eurasian program director at Freedom House, a group that promotes democracy and human rights, between 2009 and 2011.

Patten’s ties to Kilimnik were known publicly and described in profiles by the Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and the Atlantic’s Natasha Bertrand earlier this year. Indeed, Patten even publicly defended Kilimnik in the press when he came under Mueller’s scrutiny this year.

Intriguingly, Patten is also tied to the controversial political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. Patten told the Daily Beast earlier this year that he worked with the company in its 2014 US elections work and on “several overseas campaigns.”

Cambridge later did work for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and came under investigative scrutiny for, among other things, its use of Facebook data. Mueller’s team reportedly looked into Cambridge Analytica in their Russia probe, but has not charged any matter related to the firm.

This is the third known referral by Robert Mueller to other Justice Department offices — but now, Patten is cooperating with Mueller

Either because of lack of resources or a desire to avoid expanding his probe too much beyond the central players in the Russia investigation, Mueller is now known to have referred several potentially criminal matters he has discovered to other offices in the Justice Department to investigate.

The special counsel reportedly referred another inquiry of prominent Washington figures’ Ukrainian lobbying to the US attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), this one concerning Tony Podesta, Vin Weber, and Greg Craig. (This trio worked with Manafort and his associate Rick Gates on some of their Ukraine projects.)

Mueller also referred the investigation of Michael Cohen for tax and campaign finance violations to SDNY (though he appears to have continued investigating Cohen on matters related to Russia). Cohen pleaded guilty on eight counts in the SDNY case last week.

The charge here — not registering as a foreign agent under FARA — is believed to be widespread in Washington, but it is rarely prosecuted. Mueller’s probe, however, seems to have turned up a plethora of evidence of such violations, even for figures he hasn’t closely focused on.

The Patten investigation is the third known probe Mueller has referred. Yet this does not seem to have been a complete handoff, since his plea agreement specifically mentions he must cooperate with the special counsel’s office. So Patten has become Mueller’s newest cooperator. ... a-manafort
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Sat Dec 08, 2018 12:40 pm

Sources, records show Cambridge Analytica employees in NC

By Travis Fain, WRAL statehouse reporter, & Laura Leslie, WRAL Capitol Bureau chief
Raleigh, N.C.

Posted March 30
Updated July 13

— British contractors from Cambridge Analytica were "all over" state Republican Party offices in the closing months of North Carolina's 2014 U.S. Senate election, according to sources close to the party.

One North Carolina source said the company, under fire over its use of Facebook data and under investigation for its methods in British politics, had three employees embedded with the North Carolina Republican Party. Two other sources said there were at least two people.

That's consistent with what Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie, who kicked off international inquiries of the company, has said – Cambridge Analytica had "three or four" full-time staffers, none of them U.S. citizens, in the state for the successful 2014 effort to elect U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.

These would have been among the dozens of non-U.S. citizens The Washington Post has reported Cambridge Analytica assigned to GOP campaigns in the U.S. in 2014.

Federal election regulations limit the role foreign nationals can play in U.S. campaigns. Wylie and anonymous former Cambridge Analytica employees have also accused the company of using ill-gotten private information from more than 50 million Facebook users to build voter profiles that then were used to target political messages.

Documents released by the British Parliament this week include references to personality profiles built for North Carolina's 2014 elections: Lazy Liberals, Turnout Targets, Priority Persuasion and Wild Cards. The company and its parent, SCL, worked not only for the Tillis campaign and the state GOP in 2014 but also for a Super PAC headed by John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations whom President Donald Trump recently named as national security adviser.

The companies did micro-targeting: predicting what messages would work for certain people and suggesting ways to tailor ads and get-out-the-vote efforts.

A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday – it is at least the second FEC complaint naming the company – accuses Bolton's Super PAC of making illegal contributions either to the North Carolina Republican Party or the Tillis campaign by financing coordinated communications through Cambridge Analytica, which was a mutual vendor.

A Bolton spokesman called these allegations "frivolous."

"There was no coordination, direct or indirect, between the John Bolton Super PAC and the Tillis campaign, and the John Bolton Super PAC did not discuss any election-related, or any other topics, with the individuals named in the complaint," spokesman Garrett Marquis said in an email.

In North Carolina, top Tillis campaign operatives and party leaders from 2014 have largely declined to discuss the company on the record, though Tillis has issued three written statements and former state GOP Chairman Claude Pope shared his limited memories of the company's involvement this week. The Tillis campaign responded to the new FEC complaint by saying that, "if anything improper was done by the vendor Cambridge Analytica during the course of the election, it was done without the campaign’s knowledge or consent."

The campaign paid Cambridge Analytica $130,000, or slightly more than 1 percent of its $10.5 million in direct campaign spending. Tillis has characterized the company's role as "limited."

Democrats have trouble accepting that. The bulk of payment from the Tillis campaign came in 2015, after the election, and has been characterized by the campaign as a "win bonus." Tillis campaign records show a number of 2014 vendors receiving payments in 2015, but it's impossible to tell from the records what was considered a win bonus for the 2014 campaign.

Tillis's 2015 payment to Cambridge Analytica was broken into four installments of $25,000 each: two in April, one in July and a final payment four days before Christmas. Campaign finance entries simply describe payments as "micro-targeting."

The Tillis campaign also said any foreign nationals on the ground in North Carolina worked for the state party, not his campaign. State GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, who was not with the party in 2014, told The Washington Post last week that "no foreign workers worked for us."

But Woodhouse told WRAL News he didn't know if any of the party's contractors had foreign nationals working for them, and he has actively dissuaded party leaders from 2014 from speaking to reporters, saying the party must speak with one voice. Woodhouse said the party simply contracted with a vendor and wouldn't have known its workers' nationalities.

Sources who worked with the party in 2014 said it was obvious.

"I totally remember the British guys coming down," one said. "Everybody raved about how good they are."

Another said the consultants "ran around ... and told everybody to do this message or that message."

Without acknowledging this, Woodhouse has said repeatedly that it wouldn't be illegal to use foreign workers on a campaign because they wouldn't have made decisions. That's an important distinction under federal election rules, as well as a gray area.

Common Cause, a left-leaning watchdog group, filed a Department of Justice complaint seeking a criminal investigation into Cambridge Analytica and SCL, which has been described both as a parent company and a sister company. The group filed a companion complaint with the FEC.

Based on Wylie's claims, news reports and the way other former Cambridge workers have described their work, "there is reason to believe" foreign contractors participated in "the decision making of US political committee clients," the twin complaints state.

Woodhouse and other North Carolina sources deny that happened here. One former party staffer, who would not comment without anonymity, said party leadership made "every single decision in terms of messaging, allocation of resources for mail, digital."

Pope said the British consultants "certainly made recommendations," but decisions depended on much more input.

"(They said), 'This precinct you ought to target before this other precinct,'" Pope said. "But ultimately, where we deployed people was kind of in concert with the [Republican National Committee] and the state party and whatnot. And that also depends on your resources."

Cambridge Analytica denies charges

Cambridge Analytica has denied most of the accusations against it.

It has said repeatedly that Wylie left the company in July 2014 and "has no direct knowledge of the company’s work or practices since that date." The company also has pointed to a memo from its legal team that summarizes company policy: non-U.S. nationals can work on U.S. campaigns "only in non-strategic (i.e. functionary) roles."

"We strictly adhere to this policy in all of our US political work," the company said in a written statement.

Cambridge Analytica's London offices were raided earlier this month by Britain's Information Commissioner's Office, which is reportedly interested in work the company did on the country's 2016 vote to leave the European Union. Also, Chief Executive Alexander Nix was suspended after a British television station publicized video of him discussing entrapment and bribing politicians, including the potential of using beautiful Ukrainian women in company operations.

In the U.S., special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly probing the company as he investigates Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

One potential connection is Alexsandr Kogan, the Cambridge University researcher who obtained the personal Facebook data of up to 50 million people for academic study, then formed his own company and contracted out the data to Cambridge Analytica. At the time, Kogan was also working on a research project on social media in Russia at St. Petersburg State University.

Other links between the company and the Trump campaign include Steve Bannon, Trump's former campaign manager and adviser, who was on the board of directors at Cambridge Analytica. Also, the company was funded by the Mercer family, which is a major player in U.S. Republican politics and helped fund the Trump campaign.

Robert Mercer was also the top donor for the John Bolton Super PAC, which focused largely on foreign policy and national security issues and not only worked to elect Tillis in 2014 but also to re-elect U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in 2016.

The PAC used Cambridge Analytica in both election cycles, spending about $341,000 in 2014 and $811,000 in the 2016 cycle. The PAC supported several candidates in several states, including both Tillis and Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in North Carolina.

A Burr spokesman did not return a request for comment. The Bolton PAC has denied wrongdoing in blanket statements, largely responding to concerns from 2014, saying its agreements with Cambridge Analytica included assurances the company had rights to the data it used and that "no individuals at Cambridge Analytica, foreign or otherwise, made any strategic decision regarding election-related activities."

Pope, the former state GOP chairman, described company's role in North Carolina as one vendor of many doing the same sort of analytical work that former President Barack Obama's presidential campaign pioneered, largely catching Republicans flat-footed in 2012.

The state GOP spent $215,000 with Cambridge Analytica in 2014 and 2015, and Pope said the 2015 payments were likely costs invoiced in 2014 but not paid until the next year. The party was the company's fourth-largest client in 2014.

"You can try to connect dots," Pope said. "I don't really think there are dots to connect. I didn't even know who Steve Bannon was."

Another source from the party's 2014 operations said there was a "very strict firewall" between the Cambridge Analytica team and party leadership.

One of the FEC complaints against Bolton's Super PAC states that firewalls can be created, but "the evidence indicates that any such firewall was ignored" in the PAC's case. This complaint, from the Campaign Legal Center, accuses the Bolton PAC of making "excessive and unreported contributions" to the state GOP or the Tillis campaign "by financing coordinated communications" through a vendor all three had in common in 2014: Cambridge Analytica.

The center's founder and president is Trevor Potter, a former FEC chairman appointed by President George H.W. Bush.

Wylie testified before Parliament this month that Mercer used the company to skirt campaign finance laws by putting money into the firm and then having the firm work on political causes – at least in Britain – for less than market rate.

North Carolina sources have said Cambridge Analytica seemed eager to break into U.S. politics, and one source told WRAL News the company lowered its initial asking price substantially to get the contract with the state GOP.

Cambridge employee's online portfolio changed

Many of the accusations in the Campaign Legal Center's complaint track back to a former Cambridge Analytica employee's online portfolio.

Tim Glister was one of the company's workers in North Carolina in 2014, according to reporting first done by Bloomberg and according to Glister's portfolio and social media accounts.

Glister's website initially said he spent three months on a team, "helping Thom Tillis' successful senatorial campaign create highly targeted advertising that harnessed SCL's national database of voter issue sentiment and psychographic profiles." The video advertisement Glister's site featured was an ad paid for by the Bolton Super-PAC.

After Rachel Maddow's MSNBC news show reached out to Glister, the site changed, saying Glister "provided a local political party with voter sentiment analysis they used in support of Thom Tillis' successful senatorial campaign."

Glister's website has since become password protected, but WRAL News obtained screenshots of the changes, which were also featured on Maddow's show. Glister did not return messages WRAL left for him at his current job in England.

Like Glister, Cambridge Analytica bragged online about its role in the Tillis election, saying it was "able to accurately predict partisanship, turnout, issue importance and build psychographic profiles for all voters in North Carolina" and that it identified national security as the top issue among targeted voters here. This information was used to criticize Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan's poor attendance record at Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, which was the subject of numerous ads in the 2014 race.

North Carolina sources have said Cambridge Analytica is overstating its role in a massive operation, as political consultants often do after a victory. Tillis told reporters during a short walk-and-talk interview in Washington, D.C., that he had "very limited interaction" with British contractors during that race. He said that included one encounter with Nix, the suspended CEO, but that he didn't remember anything about it, "except I was in the same room."

Tillis also said his campaign team looked into the allegations when the Cambridge Analytica story first broke and that the firm played "a relatively small part" in his election campaign.

"We think it was a de-minimis influence, but we're looking at it," he said. "If it was something that was inappropriate, then we'll be the first to call it out."

What constitutes campaign decision-making?

Federal law bans campaign donations of "money or other thing of value" from foreign nationals, but it doesn't actually say it's illegal for foreign workers to make decisions in a campaign.

That language comes from FEC regulations that expand on the law and say foreign nationals "shall not direct, dictate, control, or directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process" of campaigns.

The regulation gives limited examples: They can't make "decisions concerning the making of contributions, donations, expenditures, or disbursements in connection with elections ... or decisions concerning the administration of a political committee."

Just what that means in practice is difficult to say.

"Foreign nationals might be able to work on campaigns, but they could not provide strategic decisions and help on strategy/substantive decision making," said Common Cause Chief of Strategy & External Affairs Stephen Spaulding, who has also been special counsel to an FEC commissioner.

Marshall Hurley, a campaign finance attorney in North Carolina who served as general counsel for the state Republican Party from 2004 to 2009, said decision-making on a campaign can be "a pretty nebulous thing."

"When I was running it, we were always on guard against the contributions from foreigners," Hurley said. "And we were just talking about checks. We weren't talking about activisim."

Michael Weisel, who does campaign finance work in North Carolina for Democrats, said in an email there are no clear guidelines and that the FEC has given conflicting advice in this area over the years.

A memo written by an attorney for Cambridge Analytica and widely reported by national media warned against using foreigners on high-level analysis or strategy, saying they could serve in minor roles as "functionaries" handling data, for example.

"Remember, it is the ability to influence the expenditures of campaign dollars, at the federal state or local level, that is prohibited," the memo states.

According to The Washington Post, former Cambridge Analytica workers said they regularly discussed concerns about legality of their work.

"We knew that everything was not above board, but we weren't too concerned about it," one unnamed source told the newspaper. "It was the Wild West. That's certainly how they carried on in 2014."

Republicans urged not to talk

WRAL News reached out to more than 20 Republican operatives and vendors who worked for the party, the Tillis campaign or both in 2014.

Most wouldn't speak. Woodhouse said many called him instead.

"I'm going to shut it down every time," he said. "I don't want numerous people, four years later, speaking for the party."

Woodhouse has been speaking for the party, even though he was an outside political consultant in 2014 not employed by the state GOP.

Todd Poole, who held Woodhouse's position in 2014, declined to comment for this story, as did Paul Shumaker, a lead consultant for both the Tillis and Burr campaigns, and Jordan Shaw, Tillis' 2014 campaign manager.

Woodhouse has pushed back against the idea that foreign contractors worked out of the party's Raleigh office, despite a trio of sources who told WRAL News they did.

"None," he said at one point. "There was nobody camped out here."

At another point, he said he could "accept other people said it. I just can't independently verify it."

Woodhouse and others have also sought to minimize the role Cambridge Analytica played, calling them one source of data, not the source of data. Woodhouse said neither the party, nor Shumaker, would limit themselves to single data source "because, if they're wrong, you lose."

"Whatever they did ... at some point, it comes to us, and we decide," Woodhouse said.

Editor's Note: This story has been edited to clarify that certain statements came from the Tillis campaign, not from Sen. Thom Tillis himself. Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party, has issued a statement contesting several elements of this story; you can read his full statement here. WRAL stands by its reporting and the accuracy of this story.

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 10, 2018 4:54 pm

Cambridge Analytica’s Real Role in Trump’s Dark Facebook Campaign

New data has opened a small window into Trump’s social-media machinery, and in particular the role played by the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica.

12.10.18 5:06 AM ET
Donald Trump’s Facebook campaign was crucial to his 2016 success, but two years later the nuts and bolts of the operation that helped sweep Trump into the White House remain hard to come by.

Now new data has opened a small window into Trump’s social-media machinery, and in particular the role played by the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica, a U.K. digital black-ops firm that collapsed this year following revelations that it acquired and used detailed Facebook profile information on 87 million people without their knowledge.

In the wake of the privacy scandal, Trump and Republican National Committee officials have sought to distance the campaign from Cambridge Analytica. But questions persist. Last year, Robert Mueller sought emails between Cambridge Analytica and Trump campaign staffers, and in March Mueller’s team questioned former campaign officials about the U.K. firm’s work for Trump.

A similar probing is playing out in the Senate Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation. As The Daily Beast reported Thursday, Senate investigators interrogated Steve Bannon about Cambridge Analytica behind closed doors last month.

Public statements and insider accounts have painted a muddled and contradictory picture on the key question of whether Trump’s Facebook campaign targeted voters using Cambridge’s vast store of dubiously acquired data, once described by the company as containing 4,000 data points on some 230 million Americans.

Now a New York digital-marketing consultant has unearthed a trove of digital artifacts from Trump’s social-media campaign that provides the first hard evidence that Team Trump made continuous use of audience lists created by Cambridge Analytica to target a portion of its “dark ads” on Facebook. The ads were deployed from July 2016 through the end of the election—and beyond, to the inauguration in January 2017.

A Trump 2016 campaign official confirmed those findings to The Daily Beast, but claimed that Cambridge Analytica built the audience lists from the RNC’s database of voters and not its internal data store.

At issue are the “dark ads” or “dark posts” that underpinned Trump’s 2016 social-media campaign. Until recently, advertisers could use Facebook’s precision-targeting tools to run ads that nobody except the targets would ever see, evading broader scrutiny. Those hidden ads have been the center of attention since a 2016 Bloomberg News story reported that Trump was using dark ads to stealthily target black Americans and other likely Clinton voters and urge them to stay home on Election Day.

The Trump campaign has disputed the story, and no such ads have ever surfaced publicly. But few dispute that Facebook’s system carried the potential for such abuse.

Under pressure, this year Facebook created a tool allowing any user to look up past and current political ads regardless of the targeting, but the tool does not extend back to the 2016 election, and Facebook has resisted calls to make ads from the presidential race public.

But some traces remain.

Emily Las, a digital marketer and former VP at MasterCard, has spent the last year extracting remnants of Trump’s Facebook campaign through and beyond Election Day 2016. So far, her work has unearthed more than 1,200 tracking links for different Trump ads, and live content for hundreds of the ads.

That’s a minuscule slice of a campaign that reportedly launched 5.9 million ads, but every tracking link carries a DNA strand of data about the overall campaign in the form of UTM (“Urchin Tracking Module”) codes. These codes, long cryptic sequences of characters, allow an advertiser to track an ad’s performance.

The UTM parameters are a kind of digital hobo’s code, obscure to the consumers who click on them, but mostly legible to anyone steeped in digital marketing, as Las has been for years. She’s been dissecting her collection of 1,200 links under a microscope and breaking out every data point in a meticulous spreadsheet. “When the RNC took over, you can tell it becomes a more sophisticated operation,” she said. “They’re tracking every little element of the ad."

Over time, Las has developed a deep picture of some aspects of Trump’s Facebook campaign, details like which technology partners Trump used at various points in the campaign, and what the intended purpose of each ad was.

The ads in her collection were predominantly coded for fundraising, under a handful of industry standard subcategories. “Retention” ads, for example, were deployed to encourage past donors to donate again. These ads frequently offered enticements like a sweepstakes drawing for lunch or dinner with Trump, a place on a “donor wall” in Trump Tower, or simply a promise that every donor’s name would be inscribed on a list of patriotic supporters that would be delivered into Trump’s hands.

Another subcategory called “prospecting” refers to ad buys designed to lure targets into providing their email address for the campaign’s list, which is now a valuable commodity in itself. Las’ data suggests ersatz petition drives were Trump’s primary hook for this data collection, and the campaign’s prospecting continued well after Election Day. In the last year, prospecting ads have sent users to petitions to end “chain migration” and support Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

“When the RNC took over you can tell it becomes a more sophisticated operation. They’re tracking every little element of the ad.”

— Emily Las, a digital marketer who's extracted remnants of Trump’s Facebook campaign

The most intriguing tidbits in the UTM codes are those that categorize the Facebook “audience” being targeted—meaning a set of users picked to receive a certain ad, or to serve as a template for Facebook’s “lookalike audience” matching feature. In about 10 percent of her tracking links, the audience is described as “CambridgeAudience” or “CambridgeAnalytica.”

Cambridge Analytica was a data-mining and influence firm partially bankrolled by the Mercer family and co-founded by former Trump consigliere Steve Bannon, who also served on the board. The company touted its ability to influence behavior using an electronic store of information on consumers, including 4,000 data points on 230 million Americans.

The Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica nearly $6 million in 2016. Campaign officials have said $5 million of that money was earmarked for TV ads, and that the company itself was only paid about $800,000.

Whatever the amount, Cambridge Analytica fell into disrepute this year over new revelations about its sneaky acquisition of profile data on 87 million Facebook users, which it was allegedly using to build psychological models. At the same time, a hidden-camera sting by Britain’s Channel 4 caught company executives boasting of the firm’s skill at executing covert, untraceable election-interference ops using a combination of data analytics, fake news, false-front organizations, and timeworn dirty tricks like hiring prostitutes to lure a rival candidate into a honey trap.

The Trump campaign was drawn into the controversy by Cambridge CEO Alexander Nix, who was heard on one of the undercover videos boasting about his company’s work for Trump and effectively claiming credit for the Apprentice star’s election victory.

Cambridge Analytica, Nix said, “did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign, and our data informed all the strategy.”

Parscale, who’d hired the firm, called out Nix’s boast as “false and ridiculous,” and in the months since he and other Trump and RNC officials have been busy downplaying Cambridge Analytica’s work for the campaign.

In Parscale’s account, he was never interested in Cambridge Analytica’s vaunted databases, just its people. In particular, Parscale had been eager to poach the firm’s product chief, data guru Matt Oczkowski. When he couldn’t hire Oczkowki away from the firm, he resorted to engaging the company as a kind of high-end temp agency just to get Oczkowski and his team to San Antonio.

“I asked them for an employment contract and I hired them for staff only,” Parscale said in an interview with PBS Frontline last month. “So each one of the payments between then and Election Day was for staff only.”

As for what Cambridge’s team actually did, Parscale said they “mainly ran polling, visualization, and support staff for all of the things we needed to do.” He emphasized again that he didn’t “hire Cambridge Analytica… for any of their data.”

This portrait of the Cambridge team as de facto Trump employees doesn’t fit easily with the evidence uncovered by Las, which shows a steady stream of ads targeted to “Cambridge” audiences. The Cambridge references are found in 120 out of 1,200 ad links, spread evenly from July 2016 to January 2017, when a slew of retention ads used inauguration tickets and memorabilia as a dangle.

An official from Trump’s 2016 campaign, speaking to The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity, confirmed that these links were for ads targeted by Cambridge Analytica. But the official said the audience lists were built in San Antonio by Cambridge workers who didn’t use their company’s data. Instead, the underlying “first person” data came from the RNC’s list and the Trump campaign’s internal database, code-named Alamo.

Cambridge’s Oczkowski, who’s now working for Trump 2020 through his own firm, has backed up that claim following Cambridge’s scandals. Prior to those scandals, though, he explicitly described Cambridge’s dataset as part of the Trump operation.

“On the targeting piece, we’re talking about building a database, working with the RNC, the Alamo database, and then leveraging Cambridge’s database.”

— Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge data chief, who’s now working for Trump 2020 through his own firm

In a December 2016 Google roundtable discussion, Oczkowski expounded on the complexity of bootstrapping Trump’s social-media campaign from three disparate data sources, including Cambridge Analytics.

“On the targeting piece, we’re talking about building a database, working with the RNC, the Alamo database, and then leveraging Cambridge’s database,” he said. “Combining those three things together, building partisanship models, 12 issue sets, the basic building blocks you need from a campaign.”

If Oczkowski misspoke, the other Trump campaign officials on the panel didn’t say anything, including the RNC’s Gary Coby, who served as Trump’s digital ads and fundraising director, and Parscale himself.

The shifting storylines surrounding the most successful social-media ad campaign in history is what sent Emily Las digging for clues last year. “I’m still fixated on understanding 2016,” she told The Daily Beast. “I really wanted to know what they did, and the more information that came out, the more that it didn’t make sense to me. And I thought, nobody’s going to tell me, so I’m just going to build it up.” Las was particularly intrigued by the 2016 Bloomberg News profile of Brad Parscale. Bloomberg reported that Parscale was operating three highly targeted voter-suppression campaigns discouraging white liberals, young women, and black Americans from turning out for Hillary Clinton on Election Day. The effort reportedly included a dark post on Facebook consisting of a South Park-style animation titled “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.”

In addition to the tracking links, Las has discovered and documented hundreds of Trump 2016 dark posts that are still alive deep in Facebook’s servers. Hidden outside the reach of Facebook’s search engine and not displayed on any timeline, the ads, including nearly 500 distinct videos, are findable only by those who know the link.

So far there are no surprises in the ads—they don’t differ in tone from the Trump campaign’s overt messaging or Donald Trump’s public statements at rallies. Some, however, illustrate the A/B testing that Trump’s digital team touted in interviews.

For example, in mid-August 2016, the campaign promoted a seven-day “Trump train” fundraising drive. Two of the unearthed versions of the ads feature the text, “$7 million. In 7 days. Welcome to the #TrumpTrain. Fuelled by... America.” But one version of the ad is accompanied by jazzy, percussive music, a voice-over, and stock footage depicting the “Trump train” as a sleek, fast-moving passenger train. A second version has brighter music, no voice-over, and the Trump train is now a freight train chugging unhurriedly through the heartland.

Similarly, a post-election ad from Oct. 19 of last year urged Trump supporters to enter a raffle and win an all-expenses paid dinner with the president. But while some supporters were presented with a vanilla ad, others saw the same video with a “BREAKING NEWS” banner and a fake countdown timer, warning that less than five minutes remained to enter the drawing, which was actually set to close the next day.

Las, who is not a Trump supporter, forced herself to watch every variation of each of the recovered ads. “It’s like watching one long boring infomercial. This is just horrible quality. It’s cheesy."

But in all her sleuthing, Las hasn’t turned up any evidence of the supposed dark-ad voter-suppression campaign that first sent her down the tracking-link rabbit hole.

The official from Trump’s 2016 campaign said there’s a reason for that: Trump had no voter-suppression ads. Bloomberg’s reporting, the official said, was based on a proposal floated by an in-house vendor but never approved nor implemented.

On this point, Las finds herself in rare agreement with the Trump campaign. “There’s nothing in here that feels like it’s about suppression,” she said. After a year of searching, “I don’t think it exists.” ... itter_page
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:33 am

Carole Cadwalladr

Verified account

Fascinating scoop from @PrivateEyeNews. Cambridge Analytica is the zombie that refuses to die. 3 former employees including ex-chief data scientist (who oversaw harvesting of Facebook data) have gone into business with..ex-UKIPer Douglas Carswell & ex-Vote Leaver Thomas Borwick!

Here's Thomas Borwick tweeting about a second referendum just hours ago. Who knows what he's up to. He admitted to me last year, it was his money behind the Facebook attack ads on @annasoubrymp @sarahwollaston et alCarole Cadwalladr added,

This is the ex-Cambridge Analytica contractor who was Vote Leave’s head of technology. He’s harvested every single person’s electoral register data in UK...but says he did nothing with it. You not going to use it all over again, Thomas?

Thomas Borwick

Follow Follow @TBorwick
I am looking forward to the second referendum. Given the polls are about the same as in the week of the referendum there will be a significant swing to leave on current focus group data.

And here's where it was announced last year that they'd got $1million in investment to develop artificial intelligence-enhanced microtargeting for US races..& had recruited GOP's ex chief data officer

New Republican 'artificial intelligence' data firm debuts for 2018 ... s-for-2018 ... r%5Eauthor
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:56 am

Carole Cadwalladr

Question: how do the government & opposition & media reconcile the reality of Mueller’s findings with blanket indifference to a timeline that intersects exactly with what was happening in UK? Is Mueller making it up? Is that it?

Mueller Exposes Putin's Hold Over Trump

Just over a week ago, on Friday December 7, the Special Counsel’s Office headed by Robert Mueller for the first time outlined in a court filing the grand narrative of the Russia Probe. The court filing revealed what many had long suspected, that Trump and his family had used, or tried to use, his presidential candidacy, and then his presidency, to enhance their own wealth.

We also learned finally what hold Russian President Vladimir Putin has over Trump. It’s not as some suspected, a money laundering episode from more than a decade ago. It was something that happened in real time during the presidential election itself. Thus, Trump himself repeatedly stated since entering the presidential race in June 2015 that he had no business in Russia and no interactions with representatives of Russia. It now turns out that Putin knew what the American people didn’t, namely that Donald Trump was throughout the 2016 presidential primary campaign secretly negotiating to build a huge and lucrative hotel in Moscow, which required the personal support of Vladimir Putin. The fact that Putin knew about Trump’s secret dealings, while the American people didn’t, meant that if Trump didn’t do what Russia wanted, Russia could expose Trump’s lies and so bring him down.

Trump-Russia ConspiraciesSteve Denning

The filing revealed that Mueller’s Office is now investigating the hypothesis that Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates participated in a massive election fraud, through five interlocking conspiracies—arguably the worst set of crimes against the United States in its history.

For some time, it’s been obvious that Donald Trump has been acting in a weird way towards America’s adversary, Russia. Until recently, the miscellaneous bits and pieces of the Trump-Russia jigsaw puzzle didn’t fit together in any coherent way.

Trump Russia jigsawSteve Denning

Mueller’s Grand Narrative Outlined

Mueller’s probe initially focused on the Russian dimension of the case. The “core crime” is that the Russian Federation and its associates illegally conspired to intervene in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. In February and July 2018, Special Counsel Robert Mueller indicted the Russian entities GRU and IRA, along with 13 Russian nationals and 12 Russian intelligence officers, for these crimes (which we might call collectively “the Russia Intervention”). The indictments describe the illegal interventions in minute detail.

Now the Special Counsel has turned to the American dimension of the elections. The Special Counsel now appears to be exploring five interlocking criminal conspiracies, building on the core crime of the Russian Intervention. Thus on December 7, the Special Counsel’s Office filed a court document that gave us important new clues as to the main hypotheses being explored.

Conspiring with Russia: Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates knew of the intent of the Russian Federation to carry out the Russian Intervention as early as November 2015. Upon learning of that intent, instead of alerting the FBI to the likelihood of a foreign government trying to commit a crime, Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates illegally conspired throughout the 2016 presidential election to encourage and enable the Russia Intervention. The result was to defraud the American people of a free and fair election.
The Moscow Trump Tower Project: Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates illegally conspired to expand its involvement with Russia beyond the Russian Intervention itself, through efforts from November 2015 at least until June 2016, to negotiate and build the Moscow Trump Tower Project. The Project, if realized, would bring “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues” to Donald Trump, his organization and some of his associates.
Currying Favor with Russia: The Moscow Project “was a lucrative business opportunity,” the Special Counsel notes, “that sought, and likely required, the assistance of the Russian government.” Accordingly, Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates illegally conspired to curry favor with the Russian Federation in order to facilitate the Moscow Trump Tower Project and to promote their own financial interests, thus depriving the American people both of a free and fair election and of an independent government solely devoted to their interests.
Hiding the conspiracies: Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates illegally conspired to hide (1), (2) and (3) from the American people and to lie about them to Congress. According to the court filing, this was done “in order to (1) minimize links between the Moscow Project and [Donald Trump] and (2) give the false impression that the Moscow Project had ended before the Iowa caucus and the first presidential primaries, in hopes of limiting the ongoing Russia investigations being conducted by Congress and the [Special Counsel’s Office].”
Enabling hard kompromat: Through Donald Trump’s lies to the American people, of which the Russian Federation was aware, Donald Trump made the U.S. Presidency a potential victim of blackmail (aka kompromat) at the hands of the Russian Federation and in so doing illegally compromised the legitimate interests of the American people.

Trump-Russia timelineSteve Denning

Is This Beginning of the End for Trump?

On December 7, the New York Times asked, “Is This the Beginning of the End for Trump?” Such a question had already been asked more than a hundred times since Trump’s election. All too often, the question reflected wishful thinking. On this occasion, however, we do appear to be at a turning point, since we finally know what hold Putin has over Trump. Yet, we may be rather “at the end of the beginning,” in that we finally know how and why Trump became president.” The beginning of the end” will come once there is a viable path towards doing something about it.

While the liberal media highlights the salacious aspects of the payments to cover up Trump’s affairs with Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, and the Russian spy Maria Butina’s interactions with the NRA, and trumpets the claim that Trump himself became a felon by directing felonious campaign finance contributions, Trump’s defenders have scoffed. Breaches of campaign finance legislation might be felonies in a court of law, but in the court of public opinion they are unintelligible technicalities:

“Ok, Trump’s lawyer didn’t file the right report at the right time. Not Trump’s fault! Paying off women with whom Donald had an affair? Boys will be boys! Didn’t Clinton do something similar?”

Moreover, Trump’s defenders also note that in order to prove that Trump committed a felony by instructing his lawyer to make illegal campaign contributions, the Special Counsel would have to show that Trump did so “willfully” i.e. that he knew that the payments were illegal under the notoriously complex campaign finance law. This may be difficult, given that the liberal press has spent two years seeking to prove that Donald Trump doesn’t understand the law of anything.

It is noteworthy that Mueller has handed off the prosecutions of the hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal and Maria Butina’s involvement with the NRA to other parts of the Justice Department.

In effect, the Special Counsel’s Office gives every sign of focusing sharply on the larger narrative with Russia. It is investigating the possibility that Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates, participated in a set of criminal conspiracies with Russia to defraud the United States both of a free and fair election and of a government solely devoted to its interests (18 U.S.C. § 371).

Where’s The Crime That Trump Supposedly Committed?

Trump’s defenders—and Donald Trump himself—contend that the Special Counsel has yet to allege, let alone prove, that Trump committed a crime in the sense that “Trump’s fingerprints are on the murder weapon.” There’s no “smoking gun.”

What these contentions overlook is the law of criminal conspiracy.

Guilt in a criminal conspiracy doesn’t require that every participant in the conspiracy commit a criminal act. All it requires is that there is an agreement by two or more people to commit a criminal act and that at least one of the co-conspirators commits an overt act towards the accomplishment of the conspiracy.
Nor is it necessary that the goal of the conspiracy has been successfully accomplished: it is enough if at least one overt step has been taken towards implementing the conspiracy.
Nor is it necessary that co-conspirators know the identity of the other members of the conspiracy.
Nor does the conspiracy have to be planned in secret.
Repeated actions by Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates appear to fit this definition of criminal conspiracy in multiple instances. At least, that is the possibility that the Special Counsel’s Office is investigating.

How Trump’s Campaign Joined Russia’s Criminal Conspiracy

The “core illegal act” at the heart of the Russia Probe is the conspiracy of the Russian Federation and its agents to intervene in the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump and so defraud the American people of a free and fair election (the Russia Intervention).

It is irrelevant whether the Russia Intervention was successful in its efforts to affect the outcome of the election and whether Trump would have won anyway. All that is necessary to prove a criminal conspiracy is that there was an agreement for a foreign government to intervene illegally, combined with overt acts to intervene (of which there were multiple instances outlined in the Special Counsel’s indictment of several dozen Russians).

We learn from the Special Counsel’s filing of December 7 that Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates knew of the intent of the Russian Federation to effect “synergy” (aka collusion) with Trump’s campaign at least as early as November 2015. We know that multiple members and associates of the Trump campaign had meetings with representatives of the Russian Federation, and in many of these interactions, they demonstrated willingness to collaborate, encourage and enable the representatives of the Russian Federation to continue intervening. They did not, as they should have done, contact the FBI.

We also know that on July 27, 2016, Donald Trump himself spoke on national television and invited Russia—“Russia, if you are listening”—to intervene in the election and “find Hillary Clinton's 30,000 missing emails.” It seems that Russia was listening: just the next day, Russians illegally hacked into the Democratic Party’s computer system stole files. Redacted sections of the Special Counsel’s filing suggests that there is further evidence of collaboration that has yet to be revealed.

It therefore seems likely that the Special Counsel’s Office has evidence to prove that Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates illegally conspired throughout the 2016 presidential election to encourage and enable the Russian Intervention so as to defraud the American people of a free and fair election.

Participation in a criminal conspiracy is itself a crime, even if the illegal acts were committed by someone else, in this case, agents of the Russian Federation. Participation in such a conspiracy is a felony, whether or not the Russian Federation was successful in affecting the outcome of the election.

How The Conspiracy Expanded To Include Trump Tower Moscow

Trump’s involvement with Russia wasn’t limited to getting assistance to win the election. What we learned on December 7 from the Special Counsel’s filing is that Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates effectively expanded the Russian Intervention by endeavoring, from November 2015 at least through June 2016, to launch the Moscow Trump Tower Project. The filing notes that this Project would, if realized, bring “hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues” to Donald Trump, his organization and some of his associates.

The Moscow Project was a lucrative business opportunity that “likely required, the assistance of the Russian government.” The Trump campaign, organization and associates sought that assistance at a time when the Trump campaign knew that the Russian Federation was trying to commit the crime of intervening in the U.S. election.

This is why Senator Rand Paul is mistaken when he said on the Meet the Press on December 9 that “Nothing’s wrong with Donald Trump pursuing a hotel deal in Moscow while running for president.” Pursuing a hotel project in Russia that effectively required the consent of the President of Russia made Donald Trump beholden to President Putin and prevented him from independently reflecting and representing the interests of America.

The continued pursuit of the Moscow Trump Tower Project thus explains why Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates repeatedly tried to curry favor with the Russian Federation, by pursuing policies consistent with the goals of the Russian Federation and even proposing to offer the President of Russia a $50 million penthouse in the Moscow Tower.

Those efforts attempted to advance the financial interests of Donald Trump, his organization and some of his associates, but they were in tension with the interests of the American people. Thus, the efforts defrauded the American people both of a free and fair election and of an independent government solely devoted to the interests of the American people.

How Trump Conspired To Hide The Conspiracies

The Special Counsel’s filing also shows that while participating in these conspiracies, Donald Trump, his campaign, his organization and his associates systematically sought to hide them from the American people. Donald Trump and his campaign repeatedly denied that he or his campaign had any interactions with representatives of the Russian Federation or business with Russia. It now appears that at least 14 members and associates of Trump’s campaign interacted with representatives of the Russian Federation in the course of the presidential campaign, in some cases encouraging or enabling the Russian Intervention.

Until this month, Donald Trump, his campaign and his associates repeatedly maintained that Moscow Trump Tower Project was abandoned in January 2016, i.e. before the primaries of the U.S. presidential election. The Special Counsel’s filing of December 7, 2018 says those statements are false.

The Special Counsel alleges that efforts to bring the Moscow Trump Tower Project to fruition continued at least through June 2016. Indeed, the fact that Donald Trump still argues that there was “nothing wrong” with pursuing the Moscow Trump Tower Project while engaged in the presidential election campaign may indicate that Donald Trump even today continues to pursue the Moscow Trump Tower Project—despite the obvious conflict of interest with his duties as president. This possibility may shed light on why Donald Trump continues to curry favor with Moscow by pursuing a foreign policy closely aligned with the goals of the Russian Federation and at odds with the entire thrust of U.S. foreign policy over the last 70 years.

How The White House Tried To Guide Other Witnesses

The filing by the Special Counsel’s Office on December 7 also states that Michael Cohen not only gave false testimony in August 2017 in private sessions to the Congress and the Senate to the effect that the Moscow Trump Tower Project was abandoned in January 2016, i.e. before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen, in collaboration with associates, also issued a public statement at the same time.

The filing also states that Cohen “amplified his false statements by releasing and repeating his lies to the public, including to other potential witnesses.” [italics added] In effect, the filing is suggesting that Cohen’s unusual public statement about the content of a private hearing was a signal to other witnesses who were due to give evidence before Congress to align their testimony with Cohen’s falsehood. If, as the filing implies, Donald Trump, his campaign or his associates followed that signal in giving testimony, it is possible that they too committed perjury.

How Trump Put Himself At Risk Of Kompromat

There has of course been much theorizing about what the Mueller probe might come up with. Among the most comprehensive analyses was: “What More Do We Know About L’Affaire Russe?” by Quinta Jurecic, and Benjamin Wittes in July 2018. Based on what was known at the time, this article argued that Trump was probably the victim of “soft kompromat” i.e. he himself didn’t know whether the Kremlin had anything on him, but was treading carefully on the chance that it might. As New Yorker writer Adam Davidson explained:

“A decade or so ago, Trump, naïve, covetous, and struggling for cash, may have laundered money for a business partner from the former Soviet Union or engaged in some other financial crime… He fears that there is kompromat out there—maybe a lot of it—but he doesn’t know precisely what it is, who has it, or what might set them off.”

That may be true. But on December 7, the Special Counsel’s filing goes further. In addition to any soft kompromat from shadowy dealings a decade ago, the Special Counsel’s filing points to the risk of hard kompromat from Trump’s dealings in the here and now—the Moscow Trump Tower Project.

Thus, the Russian Federation knew that Trump and his campaign were lying to the American people about the pursuit of that Moscow Project in the course of the presidential campaign of 2016 and subsequently as presiden6t. Since the Russian Federation knew what Trump was up to—while the American people didn’t—Trump himself is at risk of becoming a victim of hard Kompromat and in effect turning himself into a Russian intelligence asset.

A Massive Election Fraud Against The American People

“Until now, you had two different charges, allegations, whatever you want to call them,” Jerrold Nadler of New York, the incoming Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said in an interview on December 8. “One was collusion with the Russians. One was obstruction of justice and all that entails. And now you have a third — that the president was at the center of a massive fraud against the American people.” ... ver-trump/

Mueller is pursuing 5 investigations, the first of these ‘conspiring with Russia’ he says Trump knew about by November 2015. It’s key date in US & UK too: it’s when we know Russia targeted & approached Arron Banks.


This is crucial to understand. A criminal conspiracy doesn’t necessarily work. Not all parties necessarily act. Did Russia conspire to try to affect the outcome of the EU referendum? This is the question Mueller is trying to answer about the States. We haven’t even asked it yet


Another key plank to Mueller’s case. Parliament notes that Arron Banks misled it over his contacts with Russian officials. He walked out of parliament hearing ‘to avoid scrutiny’


pdot pushkin

Replying to @carolecadwalla
Short answer: Brexit was a Russian op. The public was duped. ... 8940443648
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Dec 19, 2018 8:11 pm

Washington, DC, is suing Facebook over Cambridge Analytica

Kate Fazzini
5 Hours Ago | 00:34

DC Attorney General sues Facebook over role in Cambridge Analytica

The Washington, D.C., attorney general said Wednesday it will sue Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal on Wednesday.

D.C. prosecutors said in the lawsuit that Facebook misled users in violation of the District's Consumer Protection Procedures Act by allowing them to download an app produced by Cambridge Analytica which then improperly collected private information from the users without making them aware.

"We're reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere," said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement to CNBC.

The district attorney said the maximum penalty under the act is $5,000 "per violation." It was not immediately clear what may constitute a single violation according to the law.

Prosecutors said 852 D.C. users downloaded the misleading application provided by Cambridge Analytica but that a much larger portion of D.C. residents, approximately 340,000 people, had their data collected because they were friends of those initial users through Facebook. This could mean Facebook faces a fine of up to $1.7 billion if all 340,000 instances are considered "violations" under the statute.

"We think change clearly needs to take place at that company," said D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine.

The effort is not part of a multistate effort, said Racine in a Wednesday press briefing about the lawsuit, and he was unsure if a wider effort involving more state lawsuits had been organized.

Here's the full press release announcing the lawsuit:

Attorney General Karl A. Racine today sued Facebook, Inc. for failing to protect its users' data, enabling abuses like one that exposed nearly half of all District residents' data to manipulation for political purposes during the 2016 election. In its lawsuit, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges Facebook's lax oversight and misleading privacy settings allowed, among other things, a third-party application to use the platform to harvest the personal information of millions of users without their permission and then sell it to a political consulting firm. In the run-up to the 2016 presidential election, some Facebook users downloaded a "personality quiz" app which also collected data from the app users' Facebook friends without their knowledge or consent. The app's developer then sold this data to Cambridge Analytica, which used it to help presidential campaigns target voters based on their personal traits. Facebook took more than two years to disclose this to its consumers. OAG is seeking monetary and injunctive relief, including relief for harmed consumers, damages, and penalties to the District.

"Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them about who had access to their data and how it was used," said AG Racine. "Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users' permission. Today's lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users' privacy."

Facebook, Inc., headquartered in Menlo Park, California, is a digital social networking service with more than 2 billion active users around the world. Through a website and a mobile application, Facebook allows users to communicate and share content with personalized networks of "friends."

As part of its business model, Facebook collects data that touches on every aspect of users' personal lives. This includes information provided by the user (name, gender, birthdate, email address, hometown, interests, education, political affiliation, photos, messages, etc.) and information about users' digital behavior (their friends, "likes," "shares," clicks on the site, and more). Facebook offers social networking services for free and uses the personal data it collects to sell targeted advertising to marketers. It also allows third-party developers to build applications that operate on the Facebook platform and offer services including calendar and email integration, games, and quizzes.

In 2013, Facebook allowed Aleksandr Kogan, a researcher affiliated with England's Cambridge University, and his company, Global Science Research (GSR), to launch an app on the Facebook platform called "thisisyourdigitallife." The app claimed to be a personality quiz and offered to generate a personality profile in exchange for users downloading the app and granting it access to their Facebook data. Although only 852 Facebook users in the District installed Kogan's app, it also collected the personal information of those users' Facebook friends—amounting to nearly half of all District residents. GSR then sold that information to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm.

An investigation by OAG found that this abuse was among the many examples of Facebook's failure to protect consumers' data adequately. The investigation found that Facebook violated the District's Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA), which prohibits unfair and deceptive trade practices. Among the ways that Facebook harmed consumers, the complaint alleges, are:

Misleading users about the security of their data: Facebook represented to users that it would protect the privacy of their personal information, and that it required applications and third-party developers to respect consumers' privacy. However, Facebook allowed Kogan to collect and sell the data of users who had not downloaded or used Kogan's app.
Failing to properly monitor third-party apps' use of data: Although Facebook was aware as early as 2014 that Kogan wanted to download the personal information not only of his app's users, but also of his users' friends, Facebook failed to monitor or audit the app to see if it was abiding by Facebook's policies for third-party applications and user data.
Making it difficult for users to control data settings for apps: Facebook maintained confusing and ambiguous privacy and applications settings that made it difficult for consumers to control how their data was shared. Instead of allowing users to control access to their information on third-party apps directly from its main privacy settings page, Facebook required users to go to a different part of its platform for third-party app privacy settings. This made it harder for consumers to realize that apps could be harvesting their data.
Failing to disclose the Cambridge Analytica breach to consumers for more than two years: Facebook first became aware in 2015 that Cambridge Analytica had obtained millions of users' data. The company conducted a cursory investigation and confirmed that the data had been improperly harvested from users and then sold to Cambridge Analytica. However, Facebook did not inform users affected by the breach until 2018.
Failing to ensure users' improperly obtained data was deleted: Even after it confirmed its users' data had been improperly harvested, Facebook took Cambridge Analytica at its word that the company had deleted the data. They did this even though Facebook staffers were embedded with the Trump campaign and other campaigns, working alongside Cambridge Analytica staff to use the data to target voters.
Failing to inform consumers that some companies could override data privacy settings: Facebook also failed to inform consumers that it granted certain companies, many of whom were mobile device makers, special permissions that enabled those companies to access consumer data and override consumer privacy settings.
OAG is seeking an injunction to ensure Facebook puts in place protocols and safeguards to monitor users' data and to make it easier for users to control their privacy settings. In addition, OAG is seeking restitution for consumers, penalties, and costs.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct an earlier version. The lawsuit by Washington, D.C., is not the first suit to be filed against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal. ... ytica.html
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Jan 09, 2019 10:13 am

Cambridge Analytica owner fined £15,000 for ignoring data request

SCL Elections failed to respond to a US citizen’s request for copies of data it held on him
David Pegg
Wed 9 Jan 2019 08.24 EST Last modified on Wed 9 Jan 2019 08.29 EST

SCL had responded to a US professor by claiming he had no more right to submit a subject access request ‘than a member of the Taliban in a cave in Afghanistan’. Photograph: Alamy
Cambridge Analytica’s parent company has been fined £15,000 for failing to respond to a US citizen’s request for copies of information it holds on him.

SCL Elections pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching the Data Protection Act by failing to comply with an enforcement notice from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) at a hearing at Hendon magistrates court.

The ICO had ordered the company to respond to the request by Prof David Carroll, an American citizen.

SCL Elections collapsed into administration last May in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal, in which a whistleblower revealed that the company had harvested data from millions of Facebook profiles to be used in political campaigning.

Carroll requested a copy of his data in early 2017, and was told by the company that it did hold information on him. He was later provided with basic information, as well as a document containing predictions about him and his political opinions.

Carroll demanded further information from SCL, including the basis on which the predictions had been formulated, the source of information used to create the predictions, and the details of any parties with whom his data had been shared.

After the company failed to provide the information, Carroll complained to the ICO, which ordered the company to comply. SCL responded by claiming that as a non-UK citizen Carroll had no more right to submit a subject access request “than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in Afghanistan”.

Carroll has still not received a response to his request.

The ICO issued an enforcement notice against the company, ordering it to comply fully with Carroll’s request, on 4 May 2018. The company had gone into administration the previous day.

The court heard the company had a turnover of £25.1m and profits of £2.3m in 2016.

The district judge fined the company £15,000 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice, and ordered it to pay a contribution of £6,000 to the ICO’s legal costs and a victim surcharge of £170. ... ta-request
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:05 pm

ISSIE LAPOWSKY01.25.19 6:00 AM
David Carroll looking back as he walks down a stairwell.
David Carroll, a professor of media design at The New School, has been on an obsessive, years-long quest to retrieve his data from Cambridge Analytica, the now defunct political consulting firm famous for misappropriating the data of tens of millions of Americans without their knowledge.
It’s 8 on a Wednesday morning in January, and David Carroll’s Brooklyn apartment, a sunny, wood-beamed beauty converted from an old sandpaper factory, is buzzing.

His 10-year-old daughter, dressed in polka-dot pants, dips out the front door and off to school, Jansport backpack slung over her shoulders. His 5-year-old son darts into the living room in a luchador mask he picked up on the family’s holiday trip to Mexico. (His wrestling name, he tells me, is Diablo.) Carroll’s wife, Alex, who was unaware a reporter was coming to interview her husband this morning, hurries around picking up the detritus any family of four might leave behind in the morning rush and tucking away product samples from her job as a market researcher. There’s a crayon drawing on the coffee table, an intricate toy camping scene set up on the floor. And on the refrigerator, someone—I suspect the boy—has spelled out the word POOP in multicolored alphabet magnets.

For most everyone in Carroll’s bustling household, today is a morning like any other. Not for Carroll. This morning, he rolled out of bed at 6 am to news that the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, the now defunct international conglomerate, had pled guilty to criminal charges of disobeying a British data regulator.

The story of how the data analytics firm and former Trump campaign consultant misappropriated the Facebook data of tens of millions of Americans before the 2016 election is by now well known. But the company’s guilty plea wasn’t really about all those headlines you’ve seen splattered in the news over the past year. Instead, their crime was defying a government order to hand over all of the data they had ever collected on just one person: David Carroll.

For more than two years, Carroll, a professor of media design at The New School in Manhattan, has been on an obsessive, epically nerdy, and ultimately valuable quest to retrieve his data from Cambridge Analytica. During the 2016 election, when the firm worked for both the Trump campaign and senator Ted Cruz’s campaign, its leaders bragged openly about having collected thousands of data points to build detailed personality profiles on every adult in the United States. They said they used these profiles to target people with more persuasive ads, and when President Trump won the White House, they hungrily accepted credit.

A year ago, Carroll filed a legal claim against the London-based conglomerate, demanding to see what was in his profile. Because, with few exceptions, British data protection laws allow people to request data on them that’s been processed in the UK, Carroll believed that even as an American, he had a right to that information. He just had to prove it.

Carroll shuffles past me barefoot, a mug of coffee in one hand, his phone in the other. “Enjoy the moment,” he says, reading a message from his lawyer, Ravi Naik, who’s been feeding him updates from London all morning. About an hour later, an email floats into Carroll’s inbox from the British Information Commissioner’s Office, the regulator that brought the charges. Carroll turns his phone toward me to reveal the news. Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL, is being fined the equivalent of roughly $27,000. Carroll’s cut? About $222.

He couldn’t help but laugh. The sum is insignificant. The moment, anything but.

When he started out, Carroll was an underdog, facing off against a corporation with ties to the president of the United States and backed by billionaire donor Robert Mercer. If he lost, Carroll would be on the hook for the opposing team’s legal fees, which he wasn’t quite sure how he’d pay.

But if he won, Carroll believed he could prove an invaluable point. He could use that trove of information he received to show the world just how powerless Americans are over their privacy. He could offer up a concrete example of how one man’s information—his supermarket punch card, his online shopping habits, his voting patterns—can be bought and sold and weaponized by corporations and even foreign entities trying to influence elections.

But more importantly, he could show what’s possible in countries like the UK where people actually have the right to reclaim some of that power. He could prove why people in the United States, who have no such rights, deserve those same protections.

Much has changed since David Carroll picked this fight with Goliath. Following a relentless flood of scandals last spring, SCL shuttered and is now going through insolvency proceedings in the UK. The Cambridge Analytica scandal spurred just the kind of privacy awakening in the US that Carroll was seeking. Facebook tightened its hold on user data and has been increasingly asked to answer for all the ways it gave that data away in the first place. A strict data protection law passed unanimously in California last summer, and members of Congress have begun floating plans for broader federal privacy legislation.

Carroll, meanwhile, has emerged as a cult hero of privacy hawks, who follow every turn in his case, Twitter fingers itching. This week, he’ll become a movie star, appearing as a central character in a feature-length documentary called The Great Hack, premiering at the Sundance Film Festival. “We hope this film sheds light on what it means to sign the terms and conditions that we agree to every day,” the filmmakers, Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, explained in an email. “What does it mean when we actually become a commodity being mined?”

But for all that’s changed during these past two years, so much has stayed the same. Despite SCL’s guilty plea, Carroll still hasn’t gotten his data. And Americans today have no more legal rights to privacy than they did when Carroll’s crusade began two years ago. That could change this year. With a strict data protection law set to go into effect in California next January, even tech giants have begun pushing for federal regulation that would set rules for businesses across the country. Now more than ever, Carroll says, having that information in hand could help illustrate exactly how this new economy—so often misunderstood and discussed in the abstract—works. Which is why, nearly a year after the Cambridge Analytica story broke, and many months after its name has fallen out of the daily headlines, Carroll keeps fighting.

If you know Carroll from Twitter—where, as @profcarroll, he spends his days tweeting bombastically about Facebook’s duplicity or stridently skewering obscure figures from the Trump campaign in long, snarky, and inscrutable threads—then you couldn’t possibly imagine the nervous, affable guy I first met in a downtown Manhattan coffee shop back in 2017.

He looked exactly the way I expected a tenured liberal arts professor to look: gray stubble on his face, a disarming smile. I could easily imagine him in tweed. It was November 8, a year to the day since Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. That evening, Carroll sat across the table from me, a lit tea light casting his face in a film noir glow, and told me what he knew so far of his story.

Carroll hadn’t always been in academia. During the dotcom boom and bust, he worked in digital marketing and watched as advertising evolved from the sort of broad branding exercise that had been the dominion of television and print to an industry dominated by Google, which used infinite quantities of user data to hyper-target ads. When he left his marketing career to teach full time, Carroll, who has an MFA in design and technology, transformed from an industry participant to a chief critic, lecturing students on what he calls the “myth” that advertising doesn’t work if it’s not targeted.

Close-up portrait of David Carroll with his head resting on his hand.
When Carroll picked his fight with Cambridge Analytica, he worried about putting himself and his family at risk. In the UK, whoever loses a legal suit has to pay the other side’s fees. Carroll raised more than $40,000 on CrowdJustice to form his own legal defense fund.
In 2014, while he was on sabbatical, Carroll began working on a startup called Glossy, which integrated with Facebook to recommend articles from magazine archives based on users’ interests. The idea never took off; Carroll couldn’t get funding, and his early employees got quickly poached by tech giants. But he got just far enough to see how much user data Facebook was willing to give away in the name of growth. At the time, the social networking giant allowed developers to slurp up data not just from their own users but from their users’ friends, all without their friends’ awareness or explicit consent. Facebook didn't officially end this policy until April 2015, and continued to give some developers access even after that.

“I saw how the sausage got made and how easy it was to amass data and create a surveillance infrastructure,” Carroll says.

Around that same time, across the Atlantic Ocean, another young professor at the University of Cambridge named Aleksandr Kogan was building an app of his own. It used a personality quiz to collect users’ profile information, including their location, gender, name, and Page likes, and then spit out predictions about their personality types. Like Carroll, Kogan knew that when Facebook users took the quizzes, not only would their data be free for the taking, so would the data belonging to millions of their friends. Unlike Carroll, Kogan viewed that not as an invasion of privacy but as an opportunity.

“It didn’t even dawn on us that people could react this way,” Kogan says.

Beginning in 2014, Kogan paid about 270,000 US Facebook users to take the quiz, which Kogan has said unlocked access to some 30 million people’s data. But Kogan wasn’t just working on his own. He was collecting this information on behalf of SCL, which had big plans to use it to influence American elections. Kogan sold the data and his predictions to the company, and though he didn’t know it then, lit the fuse of a time bomb that would detonate three years down the line.

Carroll knew none of this at the time. But his experience building Glossy made him enough of a self-proclaimed “privacy nerd” that by the time the 2016 election rolled around he was keeping a close eye on the presidential campaigns and their digital strategies. He was watching SCL’s spinoff Cambridge Analytica, in particular, because it had taken credit for helping senator Ted Cruz win the Iowa primary, using so-called psychographic targeting techniques. But it wasn’t until President Trump’s upset victory, in a campaign that had been buoyed by Cambridge Analytica data scientists and consultants, that Carroll, a Democrat, began to worry about what this firm could really do with millions of Americans’ information.

He wasn’t the only one. Thousands of miles away, in Geneva, Switzerland, a researcher named Paul-Olivier Dehaye, who now runs a digital rights nonprofit called PersonalData.IO, was deep into a months-long investigation of SCL. At the time, he was trying to answer a fundamental question about the company that was also rumored to have played a hand in promoting the Brexit referendum: Did Cambridge Analytica really know as much as it claimed? Or was it just selling snake oil? One way to answer that question conclusively, Dehaye believed, would be to see what information the company actually held.

The UK’s Data Protection Act guarantees the right to access data that’s processed within the UK. But in the past, it was mainly British residents who had exercised that right. Few had ever tested whether the law applied to people outside of the country as well. Dehaye believed this would be the perfect opportunity to try, so he began reaching out to American academics, activists, and journalists, urging them to submit what is known as a “subject access request” to the company. It was Americans’ data, after all, that Cambridge Analytica seemed most interested in. Carroll was one of Dehaye’s targets.

“David was very vocal on Twitter, and he already knew a lot about ad tech,” Dehaye says. “That’s why I thought I had a chance to convince him.”

He was right. Carroll was one of a handful of people who accepted the challenge. He says he viewed the project as an academic experiment at first, and, he says, a good use of his tenure. “I can’t get fired for what I do,” he said. “My job gives me the freedom to pursue these things. If I don’t do it, who’s going to?”

In early 2017, Carroll submitted his request, along with a copy of his driver’s license, his electric bill, and a £10 fee, which Dehaye paid. Then he waited. Dehaye never really expected Carroll to receive a response. In fact the story may have ended there, had SCL denied that Carroll had the right to his data from the outset. “They could have just said UK law doesn’t apply to you because you’re an American,” Dehaye says.

Instead, one Monday morning about a month later, as Carroll sat alone in his apartment, sipping coffee at the dining room table, an email landed in his inbox from the data compliance team at SCL Group. It included a letter signed by the company’s chief operating officer, Julian Wheatland, and an Excel file laying out in neatly arranged rows and columns exactly who Carroll is—where he lives, how he’s voted, and, most interestingly to Carroll, how much he cares about issues like the national debt, immigration, and gun rights, on a scale of one to 10. Carroll had no way of knowing what information informed those rankings; the thousands of data points Cambridge Analytica supposedly used to build these predictions were nowhere to be found.

“I felt very invaded personally, but then I also saw it was such a public interest issue,” Carroll says.

He promptly tweeted out his findings. To Carroll, his file seemed woefully incomplete. But to Dehaye and other experts of the internet, it seemed like exactly what he needed to prove a case. In answering Carroll at all, Dehaye argued, SCL conceded that even as an American, he was entitled to his data. But in showing him only the smallest slice of that data, Carroll and Dehaye believed, SCL had broken the law.

Dehaye put Carroll in touch with Ravi Naik, a British human rights lawyer, who had worked on data rights cases in the past. “Immediately, he was like, ‘This is going to be a massive case. It’s going to set precedents,’” Carroll says.

Still, Naik was cautious, knowing that the case law regarding foreigners gaining access to their data was extremely limited, resting on just two cases where death row inmates from Thailand and Kenya had attempted to get their data from the British police. But Naik also viewed Carroll’s case as the beginning of a new civil rights movement. “It’s really balancing the rights of individuals against those with mass power,” Naik says.

In April 2017, Carroll and Naik sent what’s known as a “pre-action” letter to SCL, laying out a legal claim. In the UK, these letters are used to determine if litigation can be avoided. In the letter, Naik and Carroll argued that not only had SCL violated the UK’s Data Protection Act by failing to give Carroll all of the underlying data, the company hadn’t received the proper consent to process data related to his political views to begin with. Under the law, political opinions are considered sensitive data.

Once again, Carroll got no additional data in return. According to Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica's then-CEO, the company shared certain data with Carroll as a gesture of "good faith," but received legal advice that foreigners didn't have rights under the Data Protection Act. Asked why the company didn't share more of that data, Nix said, "There was no legal reason to comply with this request, and it might be opening ... a bottomless pit of subject access requests in the United States that we would be unable to fulfill just through the sheer volume of requests in comparison to the size of the company." (After answering WIRED's questions, Nix retroactively asked for these answers to be off the record. WIRED declined.)

Carroll wasn’t the only person who had tried and failed to get his data from SCL. Initially, Naik says, about 20 people around the world were on board. But when it came time to bring the case to court, he says, they needed only one complainant, and it was Carroll who was most willing to take the risk. “It says a lot about David that he’s willing to stand by not just his own rights but also the rights of everyone affected, to work out what this company was doing,” Naik says.

Carroll and Naik spent the bulk of 2017 preparing the case and hedging their bets against worst case scenarios, of which there were many. In the British legal system, whoever loses a legal case winds up paying the winning side’s fees. Carroll worried that could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars, the kind of costs he couldn’t bear on his own. So that fall, Carroll launched his own legal defense fund on CrowdJustice and announced his plans to file the complaint in The Guardian. Suddenly, he was flooded with support from strangers who’d grown similarly suspicious of Cambridge Analytica. He raised nearly $33,000 in a matter of weeks. Today, he’s raised another $10,000 more.

David Carroll standing on a street in Manhattan in the shade, with birds flying and tall buildings in the background, including a glimpse of the top of the Empire State Building.
In January, the British Information Commissioner found SCL guilty of refusing an order to return Carroll’s data. Carroll was awarded a small sum of money, but is still fighting for access to his information.
But for all the encouragement Carroll received, almost as soon as he went public with his plans he also got more than a few words of warning. Once, Carroll says, a Cambridge Analytica employee approached him after a film screening at The New School, shook his hand for a few beats too long, and told him to drop the case. Another time, Carroll got a mysterious email about a British journalist who had supposedly been investigating SCL when he died suddenly falling down the stairs. “Please don’t forget how powerful these individuals are,” the email read.

It was almost certainly a coincidence, and Carroll never followed up with the woman who sent the email. “I didn’t want her to talk me out of it,” Carroll says. But he still couldn’t help but feel spooked. In the fall of 2017, he rightly felt like he had a lot to lose.

The night we met in the coffee shop, I asked Carroll whether all these risks he was taking worried him. He smiled anxiously and said, “It scares the shit out of me.”

A few months later, I spotted Carroll across a crowded auditorium at PutinCon, a gathering of reporters, foreign policy experts, intelligence officials, and professional paranoiacs being held in an undisclosed location in Manhattan. The express purpose of the conference was to discuss “how Russia is crippled by totalitarian rule” and explore how Russian president Vladimir Putin’s power “is based in fear, mystery, and propaganda.”

But Carroll had other matters on his mind. That day, March 16, 2018, his lawyers in London were finally serving SCL with a formal legal claim, requesting disclosure of his data and laying out their intention to sue for damages. The request had been more than a year in the making, and Carroll spent much of the morning darting out to the hallway, exchanging Signal messages with Naik, even though he was scared that any venue hosting something called PutinCon must have been hacked.

After Naik’s colleague served SCL with the paperwork, Carroll stood looking at his phone in satisfied disbelief. “It’s finally real,” he told me. “It’s not just an idea anymore.”

There was one other thing. Carroll said he’d heard “rumblings” from British journalist Carole Cadwalladr that some big news regarding Cambridge Analytica was coming from The Guardian and The New York Times. “It’s going to make Facebook look really bad,” he said.

Less than 24 hours later, Carroll turned out to be more right than he even knew. The next morning, photos of a pink-haired, self-styled whistleblower and former SCL contractor named Christopher Wylie were splashed across pages of The New York Times and The Guardian. “Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach,” read the Guardian headline. “How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook Data of Millions,” read the Times’. The night before, Facebook had tried to preempt the stories, announcing it was suspending Wylie, Cambridge Analytica, SCL, and Aleksandr Kogan for violating its policies against sharing Facebook data with third parties.

That hardly helped Facebook’s case. The news did more than make Facebook look bad. It did what history may judge to be irreparable damage to a company at the peak of its unprecedented power. Facebook’s stock price plummeted. Zuckerberg was summoned to Congress. The company gave itself the impossible task of auditing apps that had access to mass amounts of data, and began cutting off other developers from collecting even more. Google searches for “how to delete Facebook” spiked.

In the end, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged that as many as 87 million people may have been affected by the data intrusion. Eventually, the Federal Trade Commission launched an investigation into whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree regarding its data privacy practices. "I started Facebook, and at the end of the day I'm responsible for what happens on our platform," Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook days after the news broke. "While this specific issue involving Cambridge Analytica should no longer happen with new apps today, that doesn't change what happened in the past."

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that the FTC is considering “imposing a record-setting fine” against Facebook.

As bad as things were for Facebook, they soon got worse for Cambridge Analytica. Days after Wylie’s story first made headlines, Britain’s Channel 4 News began airing a series of devastating undercover videos that showed the firm’s once sought-after CEO, Alexander Nix, discussing using dirty tricks like bribery and blackmail on behalf of clients. In one case, Nix boasted that using Ukrainian women to entrap politicians “works very well.”

Alexander Nix, ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica, was captured on camera by Britain’s Channel 4 News, discussing using tactics like extortion and bribery on behalf of clients. Nix later denied the company used such tactics, but was replaced as CEO before SCL went out of business last May.
Alexander Nix, ex-CEO of Cambridge Analytica, was captured on camera by Britain’s Channel 4 News, discussing using tactics like extortion and bribery on behalf of clients. Nix later denied the company used such tactics, but was replaced as CEO before SCL went out of business last May.
After the news about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data made headlines in March, the British Information Commissioner’s Office searched the company’s London-based office and seized its servers as part of an ongoing investigation into the use of data in politics.
After the news about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data made headlines in March, the British Information Commissioner’s Office searched the company’s London-based office and seized its servers as part of an ongoing investigation into the use of data in politics.
Nix has since denied that the company engages in those practices. "That was just a lie to impress the people I was talking to,” he told a parliamentary committee last summer. But almost as soon as the videos aired, Nix was replaced as CEO. By May, buried under an avalanche of negative press, SCL Group announced it was shutting down completely and filing for bankruptcy and insolvency in the US and the UK. Today, just one of its many corporate properties—SCL Insights—is still up and running.

As SCL was crumbling, Carroll’s case took on a new sense of urgency. He was thrown into the media firestorm, crisscrossing Manhattan as he discussed his claim on an alphabet soup of television networks. Suddenly, this wasn’t just a wonky academic endeavor to retrieve data from some company. It was a story about rescuing that data from the one company the public had decided, and Facebook had claimed, was singularly sinister. “Chris Wylie took the story that I knew was a big deal for a long time and made it a worldwide story, a household name,” Carroll says.

When the news broke in March, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office was already investigating SCL for its refusal to hand over Carroll’s data. Carroll and Naik had filed a complaint with the ICO in 2017. But for months, SCL told the regulator that as an American, Carroll had no more rights to his data “than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in the remotest corner of Afghanistan.” The ICO disagreed. In May, days after SCL declared bankruptcy, the regulator issued an order, directing the firm to give Carroll his data once and for all. Failure to comply within 30 days, they warned, would result in criminal charges.

SCL never complied. Julian Wheatland, director of SCL Group, told me he thinks the guilty plea the company issued in January is a “shame” and says it merely represented the path of least resistance for SCL’s liquidators, who oversee the insolvency proceedings and are duty bound to maximize the company’s assets. “There was little option but to plead guilty, as the cost of fighting the case would far outweigh the cost of pleading guilty,” Wheatland says. SCL’s administrators declined WIRED’s request for comment.

The ICO fine was ultimately measly. Carroll’s slice of it couldn’t buy him more than a MetroCard and a bag of groceries. It’s also no guarantee he’ll get his data. Naik is still waging that battle on Carroll’s behalf, as SCL’s insolvency proceedings progress. Meanwhile, an ICO spokesperson confirmed that the office now has access to SCL’s servers and is “assessing the material on them,” which could help to bring Carroll’s information to light.

But the ICO’s charges were meaningful nonetheless. It clearly underscored the fact that people outside the UK had these rights to begin with. "This prosecution, the first against Cambridge Analytica, is a warning that there are consequences for ignoring the law,” the information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said in a statement following the hearing. “Wherever you live in the world, if your data is being processed by a UK company, UK data protection laws apply.”

By the time I interviewed Carroll in June 2018, about a month after SCL announced it was shutting down and just days after the ICO’s deadline had ticked by, the fear Carroll felt that first time we met had almost evaporated. We were in London to hear Cambridge Analytica’s fallen CEO Alexander Nix state his case before a committee of British parliamentarians. It seemed as if the entire cast of characters involved in the story had settled into the hearing room’s green upholstered chairs. There was Cadwalladr, The Guardian reporter who’d cracked the story open, and Wylie, the pink-haired source who’d helped her do it. Carroll sat to my right, busily tweeting every tense exchange between a defiant and defensive Nix and his inquisitors.

There was also a documentary film crew, stationed toward the back of the room. They’d been trailing Carroll for months.

When husband and wife team Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer initially set out to make what is now The Great Hack, back in 2015, they planned to follow the story of the Sony Pictures breach that had exposed the film studio’s secrets in what US intelligence officials said was an attack by North Korea. But as time went on, their attention, like that of the public’s, shifted focus from the ways in which private information is straight-up stolen to all of the little ways we give it away to powerful corporations, often without realizing it or knowing what will happen to it—and certainly without any way to claw it back.

That led them to Carroll. “We were initially drawn to David’s story because his mission to reclaim his data summarized the complexities of this world into a single question: What do you know about me?” the directors, who were nominated for an Academy Award for their film The Square, wrote in an email. “One of the things that has become increasingly clear is that whether David gets his data back or not, his case has brought to light some of the largest questions around data privacy.”

This weekend, Carroll will head to Park City, Utah, to see himself on the big screen. For Naik, the fact that a film like this is debuting to mainstream audiences represents an “astonishing step in the data rights movement.” “This shows a rapid change in interest in this field and the interest in data rights as a real and enforceable facet of human rights,” he says.

Over the past few years, these rights have expanded drastically. Last May, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation went into effect across the European Union, giving Europeans the right to request and delete their data, and requiring businesses to receive informed consent before collecting that data. The law also established stricter reporting protocols around data breaches and created harsh new penalties for those who violate them.

Last summer, the state of California unanimously passed its own privacy law, which lets residents of the state see the information businesses collect on them and request that it be deleted. It also enables people to see which companies have purchased their data and direct businesses to stop selling it at all.

Some of the most influential business leaders in the world have simultaneously rallied around the cause. In Brussels last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook condemned what he called the “data industrial complex” and called for a federal law that would prevent personal information from being "weaponized against us with military efficiency." Even data gobblers like Google, Amazon, and Facebook have finally come out in support of a federal privacy law, partly due to the fact that such legislation could prevent the stricter California bill from taking effect in 2020.

If Congress is ever going to make good on its recent promises to crack down on rampant data mining, this could be the year. So far, senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has floated some draft legislation. Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) proposed a bill that would task the FTC with drafting new rules. And in December, senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) introduced a bill of his own, cosponsored by 14 other Democrats, that requires companies to "reasonably secure" personally identifying information and promise not to use it for harm. It would also force businesses and the third parties they work with to notify users of data breaches and gives the FTC new authority to fine violators.

“Just as doctors and lawyers are expected to protect and responsibly use the personal data they hold, online companies should be required to do the same,” Schatz said in a statement when the bill was announced. “Our bill will help make sure that when people give online companies their information, it won’t be exploited.”

Carroll isn’t so sure. He says bills like this hardly address the underlying problem. If data is the new oil powering the economy, then what Schatz is proposing is a process for cleaning up the next oil spill. It’s not a set of safety procedures to prevent that spill from happening in the first place. That’s what Carroll says the United States, whose homegrown tech giants control so much of the world’s data, desperately needs. He continues to believe his SCL file would prove how badly it’s needed.

Cambridge Analytica may have taken data from Facebook that it didn’t have the right to, and Facebook may have made that data too easy to access. But the most overlooked fact in the whole saga is that Cambridge Analytica wasn’t alone. From data brokers that track your every purchase to mobile phone carriers that sell your location to social media companies that give far more detail to developers than is necessary, there’s an invisible, unregulated marketplace of personal information in the United States. And it’s no longer just being used to sell us new boots or connect us with high school classmates. It’s being used to influence decisions about who the most powerful people in the world get to be.

“They’re not the only ones by any stretch of the imagination,” Carroll says of SCL. “It’s a dirty business, but sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

This is, perhaps, the one issue on which Carroll and Wheatland, SCL’s director, see eye to eye. Wheatland predictably disagrees with the broad characterization of his company, whose very name has become a proxy for everything wrong with the data trade. He says Cambridge Analytica was a “lightning rod” for a confluence of feelings about President Trump’s election, Facebook, Brexit, and the rising use of data. “We found ourselves at the nexus of all of those and became the whipping boy,” he says.

He doesn’t find many sympathetic audiences for that message these days. But he, too, says that regulation is imperative, given the “huge power” of data modeling. And he too says there’s a risk to casting Cambridge Analytica as somehow unique. “This is an issue that is much bigger than one company,” he says. “If we take this villain mentality and think that we’ve moved on, we haven’t. We’ve lost Cambridge Analytica, but we haven’t moved on at all.”

Carroll is hardly pouring one out for the loss of Cambridge Analytica. Far from it. As he watched Nix stammer and squirm in his tailored suit that June afternoon in Parliament, Carroll couldn’t help but recognize how dramatically their roles had been reversed.

These last two years have been emotionally taxing and at times lonely for Carroll, who’s become absorbed by an issue that sometimes even the people closest to him failed to understand. But every new break in the case has provided some validation that it’s all been worth it. “I don’t feel like I’m up against the wall,” he told me the night of Nix’s hearing, the documentary crew’s cameras trained on his face. “They’re up against the wall.”

But he stopped short of declaring victory. Not until he gets his data back, and sees some real change come of it. “All I want is everything,” he said. “Because I’m entitled to it. And so is everyone.” ... ssion=true
Mazars and Deutsche Bank could have ended this nightmare before it started.
They could still get him out of office.
But instead, they want mass death.
Don’t forget that.
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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Tue Jan 29, 2019 3:42 pm

They were planning on stealing the election’: Explosive new tapes reveal Cambridge Analytica CEO’s boasts of voter suppression, manipulation and bribery

Previously unknown recording reveals extraordinary ‘black ops’ on three continents – exploiting weaknesses in democracies left wide open by governments and Silicon Valley.

Alexander Nix, weeks before Channel 4 News screened its fatal investigation. Image: Christian Charisius/DPA.

“I worked at Cambridge Analytica while they had Facebook datasets. I went to Russia one time while I worked for Cambridge. I visited Julian Assange while I worked for Cambridge. I once donated to WikiLeaks. I pitched the Trump campaign and wrote the first contract. All of these things make it look like I am at the centre of some big, crazy thing. I see that, and I can’t argue with that. The only thing that I’ve got going for me is that I didn’t do anything wrong. So they can search everything that they want!”

It was May 2018. Brittany Kaiser, the second Cambridge Analytica whistleblower to go public, had just heard she was being subpoenaed by the Mueller investigation, in a moment captured in ‘The Great Hack’ (a documentary which premiered at the Sundance film festival this week). The media were reporting her February 2017 visit to Assange, another piece of circumstantial evidence supposedly connecting her to the controversies around the successes of Donald Trump and Brexit. Kaiser continued to protest her innocence, and to cooperate fully with investigations. And today we can reveal more about what she knew.

In explosive recordings that Kaiser made in the summer of 2016, excerpts from which are published exclusively by openDemocracy today, her former boss, Alexander Nix, makes a series of extraordinary claims. The onetime Cambridge Analytica CEO talks of bribing opposition leaders, facilitating election-stealing and suppressing voter turnout.

When we asked Nix to comment on this new material, he told us that many of our claims had been proven to be false, and others were completely speculative and not grounded in reality. But what we are publishing for the first time are his own words.

Nix boasts of orchestrating election black ops around the world. He reveals how in Trinidad and Tobago, Strategic Communications Laboratories (the British company behind Cambridge Analytica) engineered a highly successful grassroots campaign to "increase apathy" so that young Afro-Caribbeans would not vote. In Nigeria, evidence was found that SCL used rallies by religious leaders to discourage voting in key districts. Nix also makes a knowing reference to Brexit, although Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied involvement in that campaign.

In the recordings, Nix describes one of his major clients, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz, as a "fascist". And he sheds more light on the nexus of data, money and power that Cambridge Analytica deployed as it backed Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.

A number of these shocking allegations are also revealed in ‘The Great Hack’. Yet this is far more than a story of one rogue company, now brought low after its name became a byword for electoral controversy. It exposes the back doors through which democracies across the world have been left vulnerable to manipulation. And it is the tip of the iceberg.

What the whistleblower told Parliament

It was almost six years ago, in a London sushi bar, that Cambridge Analytica’s chief executive Alexander Nix first sought to enlist Brittany Kaiser, saying: “Let me get you drunk and steal your secrets.” Back when she was an idealistic nineteen-year-old Democrat from Chicago, she had dropped everything to work on Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Later, after studying human rights and international law, she had moved into the unruly world of trade deals with states like Libya and Iran.

Kaiser resisted Nix at first, volunteering for the Ready for Hillary campaign instead. But her experience of the Clinton machine left her disillusioned and frustrated. What’s more, her parents were caught on a financial razor’s edge; she needed to pay the bills. In 2014, she finally struck her perilous bargain with Nix. He became her mentor, she his apprentice.

Brittany Kaiser in front of Parliament’s fake news inquiry, April 2018 Image: PA Images

Nix had teamed up in 2013 with the alt-right entrepreneur Steve Bannon and the family of hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer to launch Cambridge Analytica. Their mission was to arm a rising populist right to defeat the big data machine built by Obama.

Kaiser’s decision to work for Nix and Bannon was hard for her former Obama colleagues to understand. Looking back, she told me with a measure of irony that she had been guided by the first African-American president’s creed: “It is important to sit down with rogue actors, without preconditions.” Like others of her millennial generation, she also felt dispossessed, impatient with the status quo and hungry for adventure.

I first met Brittany Kaiser in February 2017. She was shockingly frank about her company’s role in the right-wing political revolutions of 2016, but it was clear that she knew even more. We spoke on several occasions over more than a year, before I suggested that she blow the whistle publicly to myself and Paul Lewis of The Guardian. She readily agreed.

She testified against her former colleagues, providing arresting new evidence about their unpaid data work on Brexit for the controversial businessman Arron Banks (now under investigation by the National Crime Agency) and his Leave.EU campaign, as well as possible abuses of Facebook and insurance data. She provided the first real proof of Steve Bannon’s role in setting up these deals for Nix, and of Cambridge Analytica’s exclusive data relationship with Bannon’s alt-right propaganda platform, Breitbart News.

In April 2018 Kaiser testified before the British parliament’s ‘fake news’ inquiry. She covered a dizzying array of topics alongside Cambridge Analytica, including her friends’ cryptocurrency-powered telecommunications schemes in Mexico, and her time working with WikiLeaks’ British lawyers at Doughty Street Chambers on “prisoner of conscience” cases.

The parliamentarians wanted to know more about a group of hackers – alumni of Israeli intelligence – who she had introduced to oil-billionaire clients, and who had infiltrated the Nigerian political opposition as part of a 2015 campaign by Nix’s firm. But when it came to the inflammatory content of that campaign, Kaiser pointed the finger firmly at Sam Patten, a long-standing fixture on Cambridge Analytica’s roster of globe-trotting political strategists.

According to whistleblower Chris Wylie, Cambridge Analytica/SCL used the campaign video in this report from The Guardian to influence the Nigerian presidential election of 2015.

Immediately after running the controversial Nigeria campaign for Nix, Patten went into business with the Russian operative Konstanin Kilimnik. His new partner was not only the right hand of indicted Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in Ukraine, but also a suspected Russian military intelligence asset. Patten has recently pleaded guilty to channelling donations from a Ukranian oligarch into Donald Trump’s inauguration fund. Kilimnick himself is wanted for questioning by special counsel Robert Mueller, and has recently fled to Moscow.

One of the British parliamentarians asked Kaiser the obvious question: “Have you ever worked for, paid or unpaid, or provided information to, any country’s intelligence agency, their representatives or associated organisations?” Her answer was “No;” but pressed, she acknowledged having been “approached” in the past, before her time at Cambridge Analytica, “although they wouldn’t properly identify themselves... I’ve been taught what to look out for: my grandfather was a military intelligence officer for 27 years, and knew when I was young that would be a possibility, and told me what to look out for… and to say no.”

Damian Collins MP, the chair of the fake news inquiry, had one final question for Brittany Kaiser. “If Alexander Nix wanted to reach out to Julian Assange, couldn’t he do it through you?” Without losing her self-possession, she laughed for a split second and responded: “That’s what I was wondering…”

Collins then announced that Nix was pulling out of his own scheduled interrogation the following day. Within weeks, Cambridge Analytica and Nix’s wider network of data, political and security consulting operations had filed for bankruptcy. It took another month before the silver-tongued, polo-playing Etonian consultant accepted his third summons from Parliament. Wriggling under the spotlight, he claimed to be the real victim of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. According to his telling, a liberal media witch-hunt had found him guilty of the victories of Trump (who Nix had proudly helped to elect) and Brexit – which he still claimed to have had nothing to do with.

Nix threw particular doubt on the credibility of Chris Wylie, the pink-haired Canadian whistleblower who first set off the firestorm by revealing to Carole Cadwalladr in The Observer his own role in procuring and weaponising the hijacked data of tens of millions of Facebook users for Cambridge Analytica. Nix claimed that Wylie had left in 2014 to set up his own competing firm, which then itself pitched work for both Trump and Brexit. According to Nix’s telling, Wylie had even spoken of being excited to engage with “crazy evil Russians”.

I was part of the small audience for Nix’s parliamentary grilling. Next to me sat David Carroll, the principled campaigner for data rights who sued Cambridge Analytica to expose the thousands of pieces of political, consumer and psychographic information they held on him and 240 million other Americans. (Carroll’s dogged campaign recently secured the first guilty plea from Nix’s UK firm.) Suddenly I received a flurry of urgent messages from Kaiser, then in the US.

The Guardian had just broken the story of her meeting with Julian Assange in February 2017. Based on private material submitted to Parliament, the article suggested that not only had she discussed the US elections with the WikiLeaks founder, she had even funnelled cryptocurrency payments to the organisation. On the same day, Kaiser contradicted the allegations in an interview with the Financial Times. “I didn’t conspire to leak Hillary’s emails and I have nothing to do with Russia,” she told me despairingly.

I wondered: could this young woman really be the elusive link connecting the Trump campaign to Assange and ‘Guccifer’, the hacker subsequently unmasked as Russian military intelligence? Or was someone framing her to throw us all off the scent?

Brittany Kaiser had already allowed me to review emails and documents in the course of my reporting, and to help analyse her materials for testimony and publication by Parliament. Now she allowed me to privately review a further motherlode of files so I could find out the truth for myself; she also agreed to be followed by ‘The Great Hack’ filmmakers. I understand that Mueller’s team issued a subpoena but it was never served on her, and that she has cooperated very closely with official investigations in the US. I found no indication whatsoever that she might have been involved in the Democratic National Committee hack.

Kaiser had originally acknowledged in Parliament that she introduced Nix to her friends in Julian Assange’s London legal team in 2015, but said she knew nothing of her boss’s own contacts with him. Her cryptocurrency donation to WikiLeaks (made with gifted Bitcoin she had no other use for) had taken place several years earlier, while she was working on human rights issues in countries like Iraq.

If we blame a young woman like Brittany Kaiser for all the failings of Western democracy, or harp endlessly on the significant roles played by Julian Assange or Russia, we risk obscuring where the greatest responsibility lies. As we unearthed more pieces of the puzzle, learning ever more about the back doors through which our democracies have been hacked, I realised the real scandal was closer to home.

Anyone seeking a single master key to the conspiracy of 2016 risks missing the forest for the trees. As Assange himself wrote in 2006, “Not every conspirator trusts or knows every other conspirator, even though they are all connected… When we look at an authoritarian conspiracy as a whole, we see a system of interacting organs, a beast with arteries and veins whose blood may be thickened and slowed until it falls, stupefied; unable to sufficiently command and control the forces in its environment.”

Investigations into Trump and Brexit are spotlighting a whole system of conspiracies against democracy, which together do more than any individual plotter to undermine the public good. Leading Western oligarchs, from the Mercers and Steve Bannon to Mark Zuckerberg, did far more than the Russians to elect Donald Trump. The full story has yet to be told. Justice demands that we ask the bigger questions.

openDemocracy has worked for two years exposing the murky finances and law-breaking of secretive groups targeting us online.

Black ops, lies and leaks

Throughout 2016, as a practitioner of politics and technology, I tracked the movements that carried Brexit and Trump to victory. They broke the mould of establishment right-wing campaigns, challenging the broken status quo and tapping bottom-up energies like never before.

But they were also full of black operations, lies, hacks and leaks, with playbooks eerily reminiscent of the Russian political technologists sometimes nicknamed “The Wizards of Oz”. Most strangely, this strange company called Cambridge Analytica, with access to masses of illicit Facebook data and a track record in psychological warfare, seemed to have played a significant part on both sides of the Atlantic.

I personally campaigned against Brexit, I followed the Bernie Sanders campaign on the ground in 2016, and my friends and I lost those fights. We watched the technologies we had been trying to harness for democratic ends being turned against us; we saw hard-right populists hijack our banner of change.

I felt a crack in history opening up during 2016. I was spending most of my time starting up Crowdpac (our political crowdfunding and democratic big-data platform) in Europe. We never sold data, but almost a million people used our questionnaires to inform their Brexit vote; so I understood what Cambridge Analytica was doing from the other end of the telescope. After Trump’s election, I started trying to find out what had really gone wrong and how we could fix it.

Private conversations with contacts on the other side, notably Brittany Kaiser, gave me a glimpse of their murky network of international connections. My wife is a creative and product visionary who had worked at Deepmind, the leading British artificial intelligence company taken over by Google. I told her what I was discovering, and she agreed I needed to pursue it. Over the following two years, this journey took me to dark places I would never otherwise have entered. At times I feared for my own life, or for others’.

In a former life, Kaiser had participated in some of the progressive movements and platforms I had helped to build. Now we shared support for Sanders, experience in private diplomacy and a conviction that data could be used for good. Yet she told indiscreet stories of her own proximity to leading right-wing players, and the moral conflict between some of her work and her underlying values seemed intense.

I decided to find out if Kaiser’s company had truly hacked our elections, whether they had covert links to Russia, and how culpable Silicon Valley and the West’s own oligarchs were behind the scenes. It was not easy.

One former employee of Cambridge Analytica compared others’ reticence to “the omertà of the Mafia”, not least because people were afraid of the company’s powerful principals. The family of Robert Mercer, not only a billionaire but also a data scientist accused of white supremacist views, were its controlling investors. The Mercers’ consigliere Steve Bannon sat on Nix’s board with Robert Mercer’s daughter Rebekah, who Nix sometimes referred to as his “work wife”.

Steve Bannon in his White House days, 2017. Image: Douliery Olivier/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

Materials revealed to me and testimony provided by Brittany Kaiser and other sources, some of which have subsequently been published, confirm that Bannon was actively involved in brokering Cambridge Analytica’s relationships with Trump, Brexit campaigners and a flotilla of Mercer-linked organisations. (Whistleblowers have also provided extensive evidence to openDemocracy of the relationships between the Brexit campaign, Cambridge Analytica and Steve Bannon). Bannon admitted last spring that he “put the company together”, but continues to claim he knew nothing of Cambridge Analytica’s misdeeds during his time on its board. Earlier this month he launched The Movement, his latest attempt to lay waste to the politics of the European Union and empower the populist far right with data and strategic advice.

Brittany Kaiser and Chris Wylie remain almost unique among former Cambridge Analytica staffers in their willingness to talk publicly. This is particularly striking given that Alexander Nix reportedly failed to pay most of his employees severance they were owed, but himself walked away with a payoff of at least $8.7 million. Nix has denied these allegations, although they were confirmed by multiple sources.

In the course of my investigation, I nonetheless managed to speak with almost a dozen sources with close knowledge of the company’s operations, and gathered previously unpublished materials and insights from a number of them. One senior source who originally wanted to save the company swiftly realised that they had to “kill the dragon”.

Why? For most of its employees, Cambridge Analytica was just another startup, battling for clients in the Wild West world of personal data and advertising technology (“ad-tech”). It overhyped its value proposition, its data architecture and processes were chaotic, not all projects went well; but many felt proud of their work. They compartmentalised the most controversial contracts, blamed Nix and his lieutenants for any sketchiness, and believed that Cambridge Analytica had become a scapegoat for the systemic abuses of the data brokerage industry. “Everyone is doing it,” I heard again and again.

The smoking gun

Brittany Kaiser spoke often about “the crazy things Alexander would say”. But it was hard to find the smoking gun. Then Kaiser and I found an old recording buried deep in her laptop files. It was Alexander Nix’s extraordinary pitch, recorded on her iPhone in the heat of that fateful summer of 2016.

Last March The Guardian, The New York Times and Britain’s Channel 4 News broke the story of Chris Wylie’s whistleblowing for the first time. Seventy-two hours later, Channel 4 News released undercover recordings of Nix and his fellow executives. They talked about ‘honey traps’ that used Ukrainian prostitutes and boasted of secret teams who “ghosted in, did the work, ghosted out” of countries, and “put information into the bloodstream of the internet… with no branding, so it’s unattributable, untrackable”. But even in the Channel 4 sting, Nix was careful to caveat his most inflammatory claims. Not so in Kaiser’s iPhone recording: the mask is truly off.

“What we sought to do here is… to build a workable model of persuasion that could be rolled out across the United States initially. To help us to target people at an individual level in a way that would increase compliance through communications.

“Our inventory has questions like, are you frequently lonely, do you enjoy taking part in new initiatives? It's not an opinion survey. Because we're not interested in what you think about the president. We're interested in you, and trying to work out...” Nix searches for the right phrase: “what are your buttons?

“A few years later we were in Nigeria again, and this was a campaign for [presidential candidate Umaru] Yar’Adua, who was the puppet for [incumbent president Olusegun] Obasanjo,” Nix continues. He appears to be talking about the 2007 elections, not the 2015 race in which Brittany Kaiser and Sam Patten were involved. “So we persuaded our client to do something quite unusual. We persuaded him to allow us to tell everyone in Nigeria that they were planning on stealing the election.

“And the reason we did this was to inoculate them. We ran this campaign for about 12 months saying, oh, the government's going to steal the election. And then, when the Jimmy Carter Center – who was monitoring the election – announced that the election was not ‘free and fair’, everyone was like… ‘Yeah, we know that.’ As opposed to going ‘WHAT?!!’ and getting really angry!” Yar’Adua won the election by a landslide, but the outcome was controversial and widely thought to have been rigged.

Nix’s UK company Strategic Communications Laboratories and its US wing Cambridge Analytica were usually careful to mask their most controversial activities in case studies. But I found one brochure in which further telling details of this Nigeria campaign slipped through: “SCL advised that rather than focusing on swing voters, the party should instead aim to dissuade opposition supporters from voting – an action that could be easily monitored. This was achieved by organising anti-election rallies on the day of polling in opposition strongholds, many conducted by local religious figures to maximise their appeal to rural communities.”

Kaiser heard Alexander Nix give this pitch many times. This previously unknown recording provides irrefutable evidence of him boasting to prospective clients about his experience in voter suppression, his comfort with sowing apathy and fatalism about corruption, and his readiness to facilitate election-stealing. Asked for comment about his own statements, Nix today denied that SCL had worked in Nigeria in 2007.

Crucially, this recording sets in context the claim by a senior Trump campaign source that “we have three major voter suppression operations under way”, made to Bloomberg in October 2016. By then Cambridge Analytica was working simultaneously with the Trump campaign; the Defeat Crooked Hillary Super PAC, overseen personally by Rebekah Mercer; an underground platform doing psychographic microtargeting of congregations and religious communities; the far-right Media Research Center; the National Rifle Association; and a massive, secretively funded campaign by the National Sports Shooting Federation of gun companies.

How to make black youth not vote

Nix moved on to pitch his next case study – a youth mobilisation campaign. Again, all is not as it seems. “Trinidad is a very interesting case history of how we look at problems,” Nix said. “Trinidad's tiny – it's 1.3 million people – but almost exactly half the country are Indian and half the country are Black, Afro-Caribbean. And there are two main political parties, one for the Blacks and one for the Indians… when the Indians are in power the Blacks don't get anything, and vice-versa, you know – they screw each other. So we were working, I think for the third time in Trinidad, and we were working for the Indians, and we did a huge amount for research, and two really important things came out.

“One was that all the youth, Indian and Afro-Caribbean, felt disenfranchised … And secondly, amongst the Indians the familial hierarchies were really strong. There was huge respect for their elders and their parents and their families, but not so for the Afro-Caribbeans. And that was enough information to inform the entire campaign.

“We went to the client and said, we only want to do one thing, we want to run a campaign where we target the youth – all youth, all the Blacks and all the Indians – and we try and increase apathy. And they didn't really understand why… but they allowed us to do this campaign, and the campaign had to be non-political, because no one, the kids don’t care about politics. It had to be reactive, because they’re lazy; inclusive of all ethnicities; bottom-up. It had to be exciting, because kids want to do something fun.

“We came up with this campaign which was all about ‘Be part of the gang, do something cool, be part of a movement.’ And it was called the ‘Do So’ campaign… A3 posters. And graffiti, yellow paint, you know, we cut stencils with the jigsaw… And we'd give these to kids, and they'd get in their cars at night, you know, just make a drawing, get in the car, and race around the country putting up these posters and getting chased by the police and all their friends were doing it, and it was fucking brilliant fun…

A poster from the 'Do So' campaign. Image: courtesy of Kierron Yip Ngow/Facebook.

“Do So. Don't vote. Don't be involved in politics. It's like a sign of resistance against – not government, against politics. And voting. And very soon they're making their own YouTube videos. This is the prime minister’s house that's being graffitied! … It was carnage.

“And the reason why this was such a good strategy is because we knew, and we really really knew, that when it came to voting, all the Afro-Caribbean kids wouldn't vote, because they ‘Do So’. But all the Indian kids would do what their parents told them to do, which is go out and vote. And so all the Indians went out and voted, and the difference on the 18-35-year-old turnout is like 40%, and that swung the election by about 6% – which is all we needed!”

Again, Nix was selling his company’s expertise in promoting cynicism and apathy to suppress turnout among the opposition. But this campaign was even more manipulative: enlisting young Afro-Caribbeans in what pretended to be an authentic youth movement, secretly designed to manipulate them into surrendering their votes. This is what ‘compliance’ means in psychological warfare: achieving the desired behavioural effect from a ‘hostile audience’.

Asked for comment on the Do-So campaign, Nix responded in an email earlier today, writing, “The objective of this campaign was to highlight and protest against political corruption. There is nothing unlawful or illegal about assisting with this activity. SCL / CA has never undertaken voter suppression and there is no evidence to the contrary.”

Nix’s closing comments in his summer 2016 pitch were tantalising: “We’ve got an in-house intelligence team, so we can do full intelligence protection… Opposition don’t hack your emails and everything else. And we're pretty good at getting intelligence too… You know what? We do a lot of counter operations. You can spend $10 million on an election. Or we can send one of our guys in to go offer the leader of the opposition a bribe, you know, three weeks before polling. It's a very good way to win an election.”

Beneath the veneer, this seems to have been some of the work Alexander Nix was most proud of. This is how he pitched his company around the world, just as he was finally starting to work for Trump. This is the man who the Mercers and Steve Bannon enlisted to help them reshape the American political mind.

On the US stage

In Kaiser’s recording Nix talks cynically about his work in the Republican primaries: with Ted Cruz, with Ben Carson, and then with the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. He claims to have turned Cruz from “the most hated man in US politics” into the front runner before Trump’s wildcard surge. It was not out of love: “We hated this guy. He's far right wing, he's like, you know, fascist,” Nix says of his own candidate. The success factor was big data, which “allows you to literally go in and target every single individual”. What about Brexit? “We don’t talk about that,” he says knowingly, after including it in a list of campaigns they were involved in. Kaiser adds ironically, “Oops – we won!”

Nix compares his strategies to a marketing campaign selling Coca-Cola in a movie theatre. Instead of working on branding and adverts, turn up the temperature. Get the viewers hot and bothered: they’ll buy more Coke for sure. This cynical perspective can be traced back to the founder of the modern public relations industry, Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays, who wrote: “In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons... who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”

In the early days of the Cold War, Bernays worked to topple the government of Guatemala through a domestic and foreign propaganda campaign on behalf of the United Fruit Company, the forerunner of Chiquita. Decades later, Nix claimed to be at the forefront of an evolution from “Mad Men” to “Math Men”, replacing the lightbulb moments of unreliable Don Draper creatives on Madison Avenue with mass data and predictive microtargeting. He wanted to precisely hit the Pavlovian reflexes of you, me, everyone. Through this lens, voters become rats in the oligarchs’ maze.

As Nix gleefully claims of another campaign in which the son of a billionaire African liberation leader covertly funded the youth movement which then drafted him as their candidate for president, “We created everything. We created a need that didn’t exist.”

Exit Nix

A year after this recording, Nix was negotiating an abortive acquisition deal with Martin Sorrell’s world-leading WPP conglomerate of advertising and marketing firms. In January 2018, he finally raised almost $20m for a new company called Emerdata.

Papers obtained by my investigation indicate the Mercers were joined by Chinese and Gulf investors in this effort, although the ultimate sources of their funds remain unclear. Johnson Ko, the Chinese state-linked business partner of American mercenary Erik Prince, briefly joined Emerdata’s board alongside one of his associates. (Cambridge Analytica China was also incubated at Ko’s firm Reorient Capital during 2017.)

The majority of the new funds injected into Emerdata seem to have been extracted personally by Nix through various different pretexts, according to conversations I had with well-placed sources and review of bankruptcy documents. The biggest withdrawal of $8.7 million took place after Kaiser’s whistleblowing, and before Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections went into administration. Many employees were never paid their outstanding salaries and severance: the general sacrificed his footsoldiers, most of whom just wanted to get out and move on.

I first discovered Brittany Kaiser’s support for Bernie Sanders via a YouTube video of a company party at the dog races, arrestingly subtitled “We ‘Rigg’ Elections”. It shows a comedy routine performed by one of Cambridge Analytica’s data scientists, who notes Kaiser’s past involvement with the Obama campaign, suggests she may still be working for the Democrats, and includes this memorable line about Alexander Nix: “He could sell an anchor to a drowning man.”

Listening again to the pitch recording, I felt that Nix, who continues to protest his innocence and attempt to reboot his career, is now the one sinking under the weight of accumulating evidence. What about those who enabled him?

Beyond Facebookistan, New Deal 2.0?

There is no question that Cambridge Analytica’s tactics were somewhat effective in pulling “the wires which control the public mind”, although I have found little evidence that their much-vaunted psychographics actually worked. What seems to have had the most impact was the dubious data hoard they assembled to target dark ads on Facebook, combined with the brutal efficacy of their messages and tactics.

Yet this was just one of the tangled web of conspiracies now being exposed. It is increasingly clear that a global underworld of manipulators and power brokers treated 2016 as a playground of opportunities. The democracies of the US and the UK were left wide open; we turned out to be almost defenceless against their designs. Central players in the subversion of our open societies regularly attend conferences of the global elite, such as last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Most still seem to operate with impunity.

During our debrief in Thailand, Kaiser soon started connecting the dots between her fury at the powerful men who had been pulling her strings, her conviction that the greatest abuses of power were taking place in Silicon Valley, and the way her own company had been used to “manipulate millions of voters across America”. Her curiosity started to sharpen: how had she and countless others been so misled?

“Brittany spent a long time in the underworld,” I say toward the end of 'The Great Hack'. Karim Amer, the film’s co-director, asked me whether I was ever concerned she would let me down. It took me a while to answer. I believed that she had made mistakes, that sometimes things break and cannot be put back together, and that ultimately only she was responsible for her own actions. But more importantly, I believe in the possibility of redemption: both for individuals, and for us collectively as a society. Those who have not gone beyond the pale can always learn and grow. Few of us have made no mistakes.

Nix memorably describes in his pitch how much more effective it is to protect a private beach from trespassers by putting up a sign that says “Sharks! Keep Out”. The brutal reality is that we live in a world that is under constant siege by sharks of many different kinds, from the financial markets to Silicon Valley and the White House. The ultimate goal of Russian interference and billionaire voter suppression campaigns alike is to get us to ‘Keep Out’ of politics: to accept the dominance of transnational oligarchs, and to lose hope that things can change.

This is reason enough to reject apathy and disengagement. The outrageous scale of the challenge calls us to embrace our democratic role as citizens, to join our forces and fight for real change. For all their ruthless cynicism and common methods, the pseudo-movements manufactured by Cambridge Analytica, Steve Bannon, the Russians and the architects of Brexit can only thrive in a vacuum. They dissolve when confronted with genuine people power.

Bannon, Nix, the Mercers and Facebook will soon have many more questions to answer. Yet Cambridge Analytica cannot be allowed to be the scapegoat for our broken system. Its successes came from its extraordinary access to data, money and power; but it was simply exploiting the back doors in our democracies which irresponsible elites and Silicon Valley had left wide open.

In an early 2016 email thread, Cambridge Analytica scientists talk matter-of-factly about using illicit Facebook likes to build ‘lookalike’ models, months after they were supposed to have deleted all their Facebook data; but one writes that their approach “is not competitive with relatively simple processes that Google and Facebook provide using the wealth of their data”.

Nix modelled his data barony deliberately on the worst excesses of Silicon Valley, while exploiting the loopholes in their platforms to the full. It is long past time for us to learn the larger lesson. The internet giants must do all they can to fix their failings and better serve their users; but they cannot really flourish until their inevitable excesses are reined in by democracy.

Kaiser has given detailed testimony to Parliament about Cambridge Analytica’s retention of tainted Facebook data. We have no visibility into what she told US authorities. The Federal Trade Commission is reported to be considering imposing an “unprecedented” fine on Mark Zuckerberg’s empire, which has also been indicted by Washington DC’s attorney general for facilitating the breach of users’ data without our consent.

Every expert I know believes that the Cambridge Analytica breach was just the tip of the iceberg: my investigation found evidence that other huge ‘friend databases’ were similarly extracted from Facebook and weaponised for political use. Last year I co-founded the Freedom From Facebook campaign calling for Zuckerberg’s near-monopoly control of social messaging data to be broken up; we were immediately targeted with disinformation by Facebook’s own negative PR firm, Definers Public Affairs. Definers is run by notorious Republican ‘opposition researchers’ from the political action committee America Rising, which even hosted a joint Christmas party with Cambridge Analytica in 2015.

Brittany Kaiser initially hoped Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg would turn out to be benevolent oligarchs. Last year she launched a petition calling for them to allow Facebook’s users to own their own data, asking them to learn and change. They have shown no signs of doing either. As a result, ‘Facebookistan’ now has its own leakers and whistleblowers. In recent months, new revelations have shone savage new light on Facebook’s bartering and exposure of user data.

I spoke on the phone with Kaiser shortly before Christmas. “I was being too nice,” she said. “It gets worse every day. You can’t fix it now, it’s not fixable, not in its current form. Break it up with anti-trust laws. Pull away WhatsApp and Instagram… reorganise their business model. It’s completely out of control, and they never thought anything would happen. They’re not really keeping any of it secret; it’s all in the open, but they thought nobody would notice or care.”

Instead of the scapegoat, Cambridge Analytica should be the canary in the coalmine. The urgency is clear: we must secure and renew our democracies. That means closing every loophole that enables the laundering of money and data; encouraging mass participation; and establishing strict safeguards against political meddling by billionaires and underworld operatives (both foreign and domestic). We also have to start building a social contract around data that properly respects the digital human rights of citizens, giving us ownership individually and collectively.

If data is the new oil – a social resource of extraordinary value and danger – then we ought to put it in the hands of the many, not the few, with appropriate safeguards against abuse. If we can build a new wave of technologies that are more deserving of the public’s trust, we will be laying the foundations of a 21st-century commonwealth: a future in which this cornucopia of technology can finally start to be harnessed for the good of all. We need a New Deal for the internet age.

Update, 29 January 2019: This article has been amended to reflect the fact Channel 4 News also broke the story about Christopher Wylie's whistleblowing.

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Re: Inside the World of Cambridge Analytica

Postby seemslikeadream » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:21 am

Wendy Siegelman

Matt Oczkowski who was head of product at Cambridge Analytica, and then formed Data Propria with several other CA alums will now also run Parscale Digital - both cos are owned by CloudCommerce where Parscale sits on the board and is part-owner

Cambridge Analytica Alum To Run Another San Antonio-Based Firm

Paul Flahive
Former Cambridge Analytica Head of Product Matt Oczkowski speaks at a C-SPAN strategy debrief following the 2016 presidential election.
Parscale Digital, a San Antonio-based digital marketing firm best known for its namesake and former owner Brad Parscale, President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign chairman, is now being run by a former executive at Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica, the now defunct data analysis company known for working on President Trump’s 2016 campaign, declared bankruptcy in 2018 after news broke that data from more than 80 million Facebook users was shared with it.

Matt Oczkowski was head of product for Cambridge Analytica before forming Data Propria in San Antonio with at least three other Cambridge Analytica alums, including its chief data scientist, David Wilkinson.

Oczkowski will take on the dual role running Parscale and Data Propria, which are both owned by CloudCommerce.

Brad Parscale sits on the board of parent company Cloud Commerce.

CloudCommerce President Andrew Van Noy announced the change Jan. 25. in an email obtained by TPR.

“Matt will continue to lead the Data Propria team and will now focus on streamlining the offerings and building out the teams between the two brands,” he said.

According to the email from Van Noy, Oczkowski will serve in an interim capacity.

Parscale Digital has been without a leader since former president Adam Brecht left the position in June 2018 after just a few months.

Data Propria reportedly assisted the Republican National Committee with midterm race polling last year and is working on Trump’s 2020 campaign.

Brad Parscale sold his half of Giles Parscale, which would become Parscale Digital, in August 2017. At the time he took $9 million in CloudCommerce stock and a seat on the board for his company assets.

Representatives of CloudCommerce didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

According to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Brad Parscale was invoiced more than $729,000 by Parscale Digital for work done for the campaign manager’s politically oriented consulting firm, Florida-based Parscale Strategy LLC.

Donald J. Trump For President, Inc paid Parscale Strategy LLC more than $3.4 million in 2018 for digital consulting and online advertising, according to the Federal Election Commission. ... based-firm
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