The number of Facebook users whose data was compromised by political research group Cambridge Analytica is “far more than 87m”, according to former employee-turned-whistleblower who gave evidence to a British parliamentary investigation on Tuesday.
Brittany Kaiser said the company had used a range of personality quizzes to collect Facebook users’ personal data, citing a ‘sex compass’ quiz as an additional example besides those it had obtained from Cambridge University academic Aleksandr Kogan’s This Is Your Digital Life app (The Guardian).
After the Facebook data misuse scandal broke last month, with the former CEO of the political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica secretly caught on camera taking responsibility for the surprise Trump victory, and more recently Facebook revising its estimate of its users’ data improperly shared with CA upwards to 87 million (Bloomberg), Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica former Director of Program Development, addressed the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.
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A former worker on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign (The Guardian) Kaiser wrote in evidence submitted to the committee: “I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million.” (The Guardian).
Kaiser also said she had concerns that Leave.EU, the unofficial pro-Brexit campaign founded by the insurance businessman Arron Banks to promote the successful vote for Britain to leave the European Union, may have committed illegal practices. She told the committee “I have evidence from my own eyes of possible breaches of the Data Protection Act” (The Guardian).
Kaiser said Banks asked Cambridge Analytica for a joint Brexit campaigning strategy for Leave.EU, the United Kingdom Independence Party, which Banks was a major donor to, and his insurance company, Eldon Insurance, before the 2016 UK-EU referendum (Financial Times – may be behind paywall). She said she may have seen individuals in the Eldon Insurance database and possibly the UKIP database using personal and commercial data for the benefit of the Leave.EU campaign (The Guardian). A Leave.EU spokesperson said: “Eldon shared no data with anyone and to suggest they did is again another lie to attack Arron Banks and Leave.EU directly.”
Kaiser said Cambridge Analytica was never commissioned to do this work but she believes it was carried out by someone else (The Guardian). Kaiser also alleged that Cambridge Analytica carried out £41,500-worth of work for Leave.EU, which was billed to UKIP, but not paid for and that this was never reported to the Electoral Commission, the UK’s regulator. (The Guardian).
Leave.EU denies that Cambridge Analytica undertook any of its work when it campaigned to become the official Brexit campaign group. Cambridge Analytica said it has never received data from any of Banks’s companies.
The suspended CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Alexander Nix, was due to appear before the same select committee inquiry this week but it has been cancelled after the committee chairman, Damian Collins, said Nix’s representatives had told him Nix would would not attend, as he was already “subject to a criminal investigation”. However, Collins said there was no legal reason for Nix to not attend the inquiry on Wednesday.
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