Black Cube and Cambridge Analytica: What do we know?

Whistleblower Christopher Wylie appeared before British lawmakers on March 27 to expand on the inner workings of his former employer Cambridge Analytica, and his role in shaping the company that stands at the center of a growing scandal about the misuse of personal data from Facebook. 

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During his hours-long testimony under parliamentary privilege protecting him from legal action, Wylie said Cambridge Analytica hired an Israeli private intelligence company called Black Cube to collect compromising information on Nigeria’s now-president, Muhammadu Buhari.

“Black Cube on the Nigeria project was engaged to hack the now-president Buhari to get access to his medical records and private emails,” Wylie told the Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee. Separately, Black Cube was also reportedly hired by disgraced media mogul Harvey Weinstein (The New Yorker) to prevent reports of sexual assault from surfacing.

In a statement to WikiTribune, Black Cube strongly denied the allegations Wylie gave in his testimony. “We categorically declare that neither Black Cube, nor any of its affiliates and subsidiaries, have ever worked for, or engaged with, SCL, Cambridge Analytica, or any of their affiliates and subsidiaries,” said the company. “Black Cube has never operated in Nigeria nor has it worked on any project connected to Nigeria, and none of its employees have ever set foot in Nigeria.”

Wylie said Cambridge Analytica worked with AggregateIQ (AIQ), a software development firm based in Canada, to dissuade Nigerians from voting in the country’s 2015 presidential election.

“AIQ was handed material in Nigeria from Cambridge Analytica to distribute online … That’s distribution of kompromat and of incredibly threatening and violent video content,” said Wylie.

“AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL,” AIQ said in response to the allegations. “AggregateIQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica. Chris Wylie has never been employed by AggregateIQ. AggregateIQ works in full compliance within all legal and regulatory requirements in all jurisdictions where it operates. It has never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity. All work AggregateIQ does for each client is kept separate from every other client.”

However, tech website Gizmodo says it has obtained files that prove AIQ developed the software marketed by Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.

What is Black Cube?

Black Cube is a private intelligence agency founded in 2010 by two former Israeli intelligence officers that operates out of London, Paris, and Tel Aviv. It maintains strong connections to Israel’s security and intelligence agencies.

The company says it “specializes in tailored solutions to complex business and litigation challenges.”

Black Cube’s main business is to gather intelligence and provide strategic consulting services for corporations.

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What do you know about Black Cube?

  1. Black Cube provided intelligence services to Vincent Tchenguiz on several occasions (The Guardian). Between 2005 and 2015, Tchenguiz was the largest shareholder in SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, according to Tablet, a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas, and culture.

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