comments 2

From ‘The Great Hack’

poster with blocks of colour and text 'Rogue Data' and 'It’s late: do you know where your data is?'

Netflix showed a documentary about what went on in the campaigns to change people’s viewpoints in the US election and the EU referendum.

Christopher Wylie, the data scientist who worked for Cambridge Analytica said:

Cambridge Analytica are not a data analysis company: They are a data propaganda company.

About an hour into the video, Alexander Nix of Cambridge Analytica said:

We are a behaviour change agency

Brittany Kaiser, who worked for Cambridge Analytica, said they used the data they got from those who did Facebook quizzes – which also gave them access to the data of those people’s friends.

Armed with that they profiled millions of US voters and then targeted those who were ripe to be persuaded – the ‘persuadables’ as they called them.

They sent them ‘news’ (real and fake) until, as she said:

…they saw the world the way we wanted them to see it.

The parent company of Cambridge Analytica is/was SCL, which started out as a military contractor contracted to use research to influence behaviour of hostile audiences.

SCL was granted provisional “List X” status by the Ministry of Defence until 2013, giving it access to secret documents.

In 2014, MoD officials worked with SCL Group on “Project Duco” to analyse how people would interact with certain government messaging.

Guardian article 28 April 2018:

The UK Foreign Office, in 2008 signed a contract with Strategic Communications Laboratories, the former name of SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, for a project to help tackle extremism by providing research and surveys into public opinion as part of an initiative to help Pakistan deal with extremism and radicalisation issues that could affect the UK.

From the UK Government website:

“List X contractors are companies operating in the UK who are working on UK government contracts which require them to hold classified information. This information is at ‘Secret’ or above or international partners information classified ‘Confidential’ or above, and is held their own premises at a specific site.”

Don’t hold me to it, but I think the allegation was that SCL passed their data to Cambridge Analytica, who used it to influence British voters in the EU referendum.

'rogue data' text against rectangles of various colours
poster with blocks of colour and a block exiting the frame with line trails - and text 'Rogue Data' and 'It’s late: do you know where your data is?'

2 Comments

  1. Terrific, succinct summation of a multi-layered reality, David, thanks – and how sickening once again regarding Brexit!! 🤬

    Like

    • Thanks. Facebook has been fined $5Billion for allowing or helping the data mining to happen, as though that draws a line under what occurred.
      Why isn’t Facebook commanded to work with law enforcement to get the data back, to destroy the data in the hands of those who should never have had access to it? Of course, it is an impossible task: In the nature of digital information – it is portable, and reproducible for ever. But they should try to track down and penalise those they can. Perhaps that is happening – at least in the USA.

      The Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK fined Facebook £500,000 because “between 2007 and 2014, Facebook processed the personal information of users unfairly by allowing application developers access to their information without sufficiently clear and informed consent, and allowing access even if users had not downloaded the app, but were simply ‘friends’ with people who had.”

      I have doubts that the UK authorities have the manpower, the money, or the teeth to do anything meaningful to recover and destroy data that the application developers have.

      Like

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