Posts tagged "Cambridge Analytica"

British citizens are preparing a damages claim against Facebook

11/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “British citizens are preparing a damages claim against Facebook”

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has today published a scathing report into how British Citizens’ data and privacy has been violated.

 

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said “Under new GDPR laws, the ICO could fine Facebook for £479 million. Unfortunately, because they had to follow old data protection laws, they were only able to fine them the maximum of £500,000. This is unacceptable. Facebook must be held accountable for their violations of British citizens’ data. Fair Vote UK is preparing a class action claim against Facebook, which already has 84 claimants. All 1.1 million British citizens impacted by the Cambridge Analytica data breach can join the claim. People can check if they were impacted and join the claim on our website.

 

When it comes down to our democracy we should not be negotiating with private companies. Until now, Facebook has been allowed to make their own rules. It is time for Parliament to fulfil their legislative duties and regulate data barons like Facebook.”

 

With regard to the ICO’s call for a pause of digital political ads: “The ICO has called for an ‘ethical pause’ on digital advertising until regulation is brought in that will robustly protect fairness in our democratic processes. This is exactly what Fair Vote UK has been calling for since whistleblowers revealed damning evidence about how UK democracy was manipulated using voter microtargeting and misuse and abuse of data. It is shocking that even the ICO cannot implement the recommendations it sees fit but instead relies on political will that seems to be sadly lacking in order to restore trust in democratic processes.”

 

And on SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica and AIQ: “Furthermore, criminal proceedings for SCL Group mean those who committed these offenses may now be brought to justice. Similarly, a notice to Aggregate IQ to stop processing British citizens’ data raises further concern that such data may still be held overseas. While this is a start, there is still more to be done to hold these companies to account.

 

The Information Commissioner herself said that citizens have little idea of what is happening behind the scenes about how the average voters’ data is being used and also how personal data may have impacted the outcome of the Brexit referendum in ways that broke electoral law. These issues are of great concern and need to be dealt with urgently – especially in light of recent resignations and cabinet unrest – before we consider having another poll of any sort – whether it is another referendum or a general election.”

Timeline of Leave.EU

21/06/2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “
Timeline of Leave.EU

We have seen a number of important revelations come to light recently about Nigel Farage, Arron Banks, Andy Wigmore, and their various businesses and organisations including Leave.EU, Eldon Insurance, Big Data Dolphins, and others. With so many different stories coming to light, it can be difficult to keep track. We decided to compile a comprehensive timeline of the events we think are significant. 

Take a look and let us know what you think. 

23 June 2016: EU Referendum

8 November 2016: Trump is elected.

9 June 2018: News breaks that Banks met with Russians, including Ambassador Yakovenko and various Russian businessmen, many more times than he has previously revealed. The information came to light due to emails given to The Times and The Guardian. Banks changes his mind and says he will testify to DCMS.

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore appear before the DCMS committee

13/06/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore appear before the DCMS committee”

The Fair Vote Project was set up in response to evidence brought forward by pro-Brexit whistleblowers relating to the misuse of data and alleged overspending in the recent Brexit referendum. The Fair Vote Project does not have a position on Brexit. It is a pro-democracy group motivated by ensuring that votes are fair and in order to be sure of this, in light of recent allegations, it is calling for immediate electoral commission reform.

The Fair Vote Project and its Director, Kyle Taylor, are defendants in a Mississippi, USA lawsuit against Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins, companies registered in the UK with clear and self-declared links to Mississippi, USA. Based on testimony given by Brittany Kaiser and interview recordings given by Andy Wigmore, evidence suggests that British citizens’ data is being stored and used for political and commercial purposes at a state university.

The claim of this suit does not mean that Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins did necessarily transfer UK data to Mississippi to use for political gain, it is simply an attempt to find out if they did.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said “The Fair Vote Project has said from the beginning that some things are bigger than Brexit, like preserving our democratic principles.

We sought the claim in Mississippi based on verbal accounts given by Kaiser and Wigmore. If the preservation order wasn’t being fought by Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins then the matter could have been cleared up already. We have not said that what Kaiser and Wigmore stated happened for certain, we are simply trying to find out. If there was no wrongdoing why fight the case so vehemently?

Our motivation is clear – in the past few months, troubling evidence has been brought forward that suggests our democracy is not functioning freely and fairly. The Fair Vote Project is seeking to strengthen our democratic processes, hold those who may have cheated in our elections to account and ultimately make sure UK democracy is fit for the digital age.”

Shocking Revelations in Mississippi

05/06/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Shocking Revelations in Mississippi”

Mississippi court case reveals Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins used insurance data of millions of UK citizens to conduct data modeling learned from Cambridge Analytica

The Fair Vote Project’s suit against Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins in Mississippi, USA is set to enter a second day following extended testimony in what turned out to be a day full of revelations.

The case was separated into two hearings – the first to determine jurisdiction and the second to hear the motion to preserve data. Yesterday’s jurisdictional hearing went on for a grueling five hours of intense testimony, much longer than anticipated. One of the main witnesses called, Vanessa Sena, Project Manager for the Mississippi project at Eldon Insurance, was questioned for hours about the relationship Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins had, has, and will have with the University of Mississippi.

The defendants attempted to suggest they did not have a significant enough relationship with the University to be under their jurisdiction for this legal matter despite having a signed lease agreement for thousands of square feet of office space in the University’s “Insight Park,” years of well-documented meetings and the release of 2017 audio interviews with Andy Wigmore, a once director of Eldon Insurance, boasting about already conducting Cambridge Analytica-style data experiments in Mississippi with British Eldon Insurance data.

Eldon Insurance Project Manager Victoria Sena’s main defense against these evidenced allegations was to say that Andy Wigmore is a “PR guy” who was attempting to hype the abilities of the Eldon and Big Data Dolphins. This claim was contradicted when she then suggested that Big Data Dolphins was undertaking data modelling learned from meetings with Cambridge Analytica in the UK, not Mississippi, exactly like Wigmore described in the tapes. If true, millions of UK citizens could be currently having information about their lifestyle, their credit check and other information taken for insurance purposes used in sophisticated data modelling projects planned for political gains.

The Fair Vote Project immediately made the ICO and DCMS Select Committee aware of this claim in its ongoing effort to protect British citizens’ and residents’ data from misuse.

Kyle Taylor, lead plaintiff and Director of the The Fair Vote Project, said “it was a surprising first day of testimony. To hear Eldon and Big Data Dolphin’s primary defense be that Andy Wigmore was simply a PR guy is not enough against the myriad evidence and is a desperate attempt to grasp at straws. Wigmore was a listed director until he resigned less than two weeks after Brittany Kaiser gave testimony that these companies were involved in offshoring UK citizens’ data to Mississippi.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation was that these companies may be currently misusing personal data in the UK. People should have the right to know how their data is being used and to refuse if it’s not something they want to be a part of. I’m sure many people in the UK would not be comfortable with their insurance data being used to build Cambridge Analytica-style personality models.

I look forward to giving my own testimony as we work to hold these companies to account and defend the rights of citizens in controlling their own personal data and preserve the sanctity of our democratic processes.”

5 Questions for Alexander Nix

30/05/2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “5 Questions for Alexander Nix”

Next Wednesday, Alexander Nix will finally appear in front of the DCMS select committee investigating fake news and its impact on our elections. The former Cambridge Analytica CEO has avoided answering publicly for the allegations against his now-defunct company — until now.

The Fair Vote Project has been instrumental in holding Cambridge Analytica and Mr Nix to account. In the wake of the data harvesting scandal, we are preparing a damages claim against Facebook to bring justice to the 1.1 million UK Facebook users affected. We are also calling for broader Electoral Commission reforms and a digital bill of rights to protect users against the predatory practices of companies like Cambridge Analytica who see us as no more than data sets to be manipulated.

Mr Nix’s appearance presents an extraordinary opportunity for the DCMS select committee to gain further insight into the ways in which Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections have been involved in misuse of data and election manipulating.

The Fair Vote Project has five main questions that should be asked:

  1. What is Emerdata and what is it’s purpose?
    When Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections announced they were filing for bankruptcy and closing their doors, many were quick to point out that several high level executives and investors from CA and SCL had already formed a new company — Emerdata. Not much is known about this entity so it is vital that DCMS gets to the bottom of who they are and what they’re doing. Can we really allow this company to continue on with business as usual under a different name?
  2. What was the exact relationship between Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU?
    The Electoral Commission has just released their findings on Leave.EU, fining them £70,000 and referring Chief Executive Liz Bilney to the Met police for criminal investigations. While the EC did not find evidence of collaboration between Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU, Mr Nix, Arron Banks, and Andy Wigmore have all spoken in the past about the work CA did for Leave.EU. We must understand exactly how CA was involved in Leave.EU’s work to determine how it may have influenced the turnout of the election.
  3. What type of data does Cambridge Analytica/SCL Elections hold on UK citizens and where is it held?
    Nix and CA were proud to boast about the ‘5,000 data points’ they had about every US citizen during the 2016 presidential election. But they’ve never been forthcoming about what exactly these data points were or how they received this information. In light of the news of the harvested Facebook data, this boast is particularly troubling. CA and SCL Elections both had headquarters in London and have done work in the UK in the past. What kind of data did they have on UK citizens?
  4. Can hyper-specific data targeting really impact elections?
    Up until recently, CA and Mr Nix especially have spoken at length about how influential CA’s unique brand of behavioural analysis and targeting can be on elections. However, in the aftermath of the data harvesting scandal, they’ve backtracked and insist that ultimately, candidates win elections, not data. Mr Nix must answer for how impactful this targeting may be, for the sake of our future democracy.
  5. Is CA cooperating fully with authorities in the UK as well as the US and other countries potentially affected to share materials and data vital to the investigations into CA’s role in using people’s data without permission?
    When CA/SCL declared bankruptcy, many worried they would use this as an opportunity to destroy potential evidence. The DCMS select committee must ensure that Mr Nix and CA are willing to comply with the active investigations going on.

What would you ask Alexander Nix? Let us know: our.fairvote.uk/nix

Fair Vote Project’s temporary injunction EXTENDED

21/05/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Fair Vote Project’s temporary injunction EXTENDED”

The Fair Vote Project obtains an extension of preservation order of British citizens’ data possibly being held in Mississippi

 

A former senior Cambridge Analytica employee told MPs’ that she believed prominent figures who backed Leave misused private data from Eldon Insurance Services Ltd and UKIP to influence the outcome of the Brexit referendum.

 

Brittany Kaiser said during her testimony that Arron Banks, who owns Eldon, and Andy Wigmore had said they wished to create “their own Cambridge Analytica” at the University of Mississippi using her proposals.

This alleged misused data is possibly being stored on a server at the University of Mississippi. Keeping U.K. data outside of the EEA without consent or proper protections is a violation of the Data Protection Act.

 

Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas last Friday extended a temporary injunction against Eldon Insurance Services Ltd and Big Data Dolphins Ltd, meaning they cannot destroy, alter or transfer any data currently being held.

 

How did Eldon and Big Data Dolphins come to lease server space in Mississippi?

 

Phil Bryant, Mississippi Governor, fostered a relationship with Arron Banks and Nigel Farage. Bryant says that he was informed that Eldon needed somewhere to undertake research and so he connected them with the University of Mississippi.

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office and the DCMS select committee are aware of the preservation order and the ongoing legal process.

 

Eldon, a UK-based company, was present during the hearing.

 

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said “Eldon Insurance appear to have sent a representative to the hearing – what is there on that server that is so important that someone travelled all the way from Bristol to Mississippi to try and stop us from obtaining an extended preservation order?

 

If there’s nothing to see here as their lawyers claim why all the fuss to stop us from accessing this server to make sure?

 

The Judge’s decision to grant us an extension shows that he believes there is reasonable grounds to suspect British citizens’ data is indeed being held unlawfully in Mississippi.

 

We need to know for certain if this is the case and what it is was used for – Kaiser’s testimony seems to point to the strong possibility that the data was used in ways that are anti-democratic and that may cast doubt over the Brexit referendum result but also the ability of our democracy to function freely and fairly in the digital age.”

This story is just developing. Make sure you join us to receive updates as we learn more about what exactly Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU did.

Temporary Injunction Granted re: Leave.EU

18/05/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Temporary Injunction Granted re: Leave.EU”

The Fair Vote Project has successfully obtained an order to prevent evidence being deleted that links Cambridge Analytica to the Leave campaign.

A former senior Cambridge Analytica employee told MPs’ that she believed CA and Leave.EU took data from UKIP and combined it with user data from a series of US-based companies with the expressed purpose of manipulating the outcome of the Brexit referendum. The amount of British citizens who had their data stolen is currently unknown.

Keeping U.K. data outside of the EEA without consent or proper protections is a violation of the Data Protection Act.

A temporary injunction order has been obtained by The Fair Vote Project in the United States to ensure that evidence of wrongdoing – if there is any – is preserved and that the relevant authorities can investigate. Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins have been served summons.

Alexander Nix and Cambridge Analytica have continually denied ever working on the Leave campaign despite Arron Banks tweeting that he was proud to have worked with the company and making reference to a large social media machine deployed during the campaign.

Whistleblower testimony and the injunction obtained by The Fair Vote Project may finally prove once and for all that CA was intimately working on the Brexit referendum despite Cambridge Analytica’s obfuscation.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said:

“Cambridge Analytica has done nothing but try to pull wool over our eyes. Without this injunction I have no doubt they and their co-horts would have sought to destroy any evidence linking them to at least one of the Leave campaigns. We have no idea how much UK citizens’ data may have been transferred to the US, but it could be millions. This could have proven the decisive factor in the outcome of the referendum.”

This story is just developing. Make sure you join us to receive updates as we learn more about what exactly Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU did.

Cambridge Analytica: Then and Now

18/05/2018 Posted by News 0 thoughts on “Cambridge Analytica: Then and Now”

In recent weeks, we’ve seen a barrage of information come to light about the now disgraced and shut down SCL Elections/Cambridge Analytica. As evidence of SCL/CA’s roles in misusing data to manipulate elections around the world has come to light, it’s been enlightening to see the way they talk about who they are and what they’ve done.

Now, Cambridge Analytica insists that they are a standard data analytics and market research company, using traditional tools to assist candidates and campaigns. But this has not always been the case.

The Fair Vote Project looked at captures of Cambridge Analytica’s website from 2016 as well as an article written by Alexander Nix himself in February 2016 and compared them to CA’s recent press releases and their webpage CambridgeFacts.com which attempted to “set the record straight” on what exactly CA did.

Connection between SCL and CA

We know that SCL Elections and Cambridge Analytica are related entities but the exact relationship  is unclear. This is increasingly important as the authorities work out exactly how SCL and Cambridge Analytica may have misused Facebook data collected through Aleksandr Kogan’s GSR app or misused other data from other sources.

Then

2 February 2016: Alexander Nix claims SCL Group is what CA is known as in Europe, suggesting they are entirely the same entity. People who worked with them at the time, namely Aleksandr Kogan and Jeff Silvester, co-founder of AIQ, publicly claimed that they knew that CA and SCL were related but did not know exactly how.

Now

April 2018: Cambridge Analytica says SCL was the "precursor" to CA.
29 March 2018: CA claims SCL is an associated entity

These may seem like small quibbles. But it’s vital that we understand the connection between CA and SCL, as the companies could be hiding information about having access to and responsibility for intellectual property and data.

For example, Dr Kogan said in Parliament that he “never had a contract with Cambridge Analytica,”  only SCL Elections. However, CA’s information site CambridgeFacts.com now says that:

April 2018: Cambridge Analytica says they licensed data from Dr Kogan, even though Dr Kogan insists he never had contact with CA, only SCL.

Dr Kogan himself wasn’t clear on the distinction between SCL Elections and Cambridge Analytica. With such unclear definitions of the boundaries between companies, it is uncertain which company is responsible for and in possession of data and information relating to people from the UK as well as people from all over the world.

With their recent bankruptcy filings, it’s clear that SCL and CA are inextricably linked. What does this mean for the intellectual property and data that may have been shared between the companies? What are they hiding?

CA’s Impact on Elections

Then

In February 2016, CA published the following on their website concerning their work for the Ted Cruz campaign in the primaries:

2 February 2016: CA promoting that the 2016 race is a battle between big data companies.

In Alexander Nix’s own article from the same time, he explicitly attributes Ted Cruz’s success (and Donald Trump’s failure) to data analytics:

2 February 2016: Nix attributing Cruz's success to his superior data analytics game. Cambridge Analytica worked for Trump in the general election.....and the rest is history.

CA’s own website from late 2016/early 2017 heavily promotes the importance of behavioural and psychological testing:

January 2017: CA publicised their claim that they had 5,000 data points per person far and wide after they helped Trump win the election. They've never been transparent about what exactly these 5,000 data points are or where they got this information.
January 2017: CA promoting behavioral microtargeting.

Now

In recent months, CA has majorly backtracked on the influence they had in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election and what exactly they did to win:

29 March 2018: CA downplaying their impact in 2016 election.
10 April 2018: An early version of CA's PR site CambridgeFacts insists on the disappointment of the Facebook data CA got from Dr Kogan's GSR app. They also downplay the importance of market psychology, something they have been promoting as the future of marketing and campaigning for years.

Throughout the 2016 campaign and in 2017, CA emphasised their state of the art technology and use of behavioural and psychological targeting. But on CambridgeFacts, CA scales back, insisting they used the same tactics as Obama and Clinton.

April 2018: CA downplays their uses of advanced microtargeting, insisting they did not use "personalilty models" despite what they touted during and after the election.

CA and Leave.EU

CA has insisted multiple times that they did not do any work on the 2016 referendum. Leave.EU has also picked up this line in recent months. This is markedly different to what both organisations said in 2016 and 2017.

The sharp change in both organisations’ statements is suspicious. While Facebook and the Electoral Commission found no evidence of activity between the two but neither examination was exhaustive. Why won’t Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU own up to the work they did together?

With Leave.EU found to be in serious breach of electoral law, it’s vital we understand just what they did so it never happens again.

Then

2 February 2016: Nix saying CA was working with Leave.EU.
3 March 2017: Arron Banks confirming Leave.EU worked with Cambridge Analytica.

Now

April 2018: CA denying they did any work in EU referendum, a very different message from February 2016.
27 Feb 2018: Arron Banks begins backtracking on working with CA, saying Leave.EU declined CA's offer because it was illegal.

Cambridge Analytica has proven time and again to be dishonest and untrustworthy. With SCL and Cambridge Analytica shutting down and declaring bankruptcy, it’s more important than ever to understand the inner workings of the organisation.

As much as they are trying to backtrack now, we have seen the impact of their work. They have promoted their ability to target and change minds and behaviours. With this type of power and influence, we must ensure that we are properly protected against manipulative tactics.

The same people at the helm of SCL and CA have started a new company: Emerdata. What is going to stop them from doing it all over again?

Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down — What Now?

08/05/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Cambridge Analytica Shuts Down — What Now?”

Cambridge Analytica closes its doors but a new company already exists. Time to stop this once and for all with a digital bill of rights enshrined in law

Nigel Oakes, founder of SCL Elections, announced that SCL and Cambridge Analytica will be shutting their doors and filing insolvency proceedings. The Fair Vote Project asks does this mean data they hold could be destroyed and can we be certain that they will be held to account?

In the six weeks since whistleblower Christopher Wiley – supported by The Fair Vote Project – came forward with evidence of Cambridge Analytica’s widespread misuse of Facebook data, evidence has continued to grow about the ways SCL, Cambridge Analytica, and partner companies such as AIQ, have been using misappropriated data to create sophisticated and highly personalised microtargeting tools which have been used in elections all around the world. Investigations into Cambridge Analytica’s activities are ongoing in several countries, including the U.K.

Kyle Taylor, Founder and Director of The Fair Vote Project, said: “The Fair Vote Project has been working tirelessly across this data issue and its implications. While this is a welcome development, it is essential that governments and media outlets do not stop here. The real story is this:  While SCL and Cambridge Analytica are shutting their doors, some of the key players involved have already moved on to a new company: Emerdata. Current CA CEO Julian Wheatland and Chief Data Officer Dr Alexander Tayler are both listed as Directors of Emerdata, and disgraced former CEO Alexander Nix was the founding CEO. Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, daughters of billionaire Robert Mercer, one of the creators of Cambridge Analytica, are on the board.

This is exactly what you’d expect from individuals and entities like these – dump the organisation (and responsibilities, note CA have filed for insolvency) and spring up under a new name doing the same morally corrupt work. That’s why The Fair Vote Project are demanding consequential reform to the Electoral Commission and aim to enshrine a digital bill of rights for our democracy to make sure these entities – whatever they’re named – are never able to infiltrate our elections again.

Without proper laws and systems in place to prevent the misuse of data and the circumvention of traditional law online, companies like Cambridge Analytica can continue to spread misinformation in elections worldwide.  Recent news about Facebook’s failure to stem the spread of fake news in the Irish referendum only further illustrates that this problem will not go away with the closing down of Cambridge Analytica and SCL. We cannot trust companies like Facebook to “self-regulate.” It’s time government’s did their job and intervene immediately to ensure people in the U.K. and around the world are safe from predatory practices.

The future of democracies everywhere hinge on our ability to create strong protections for digital information. The Fair Vote Project’s proposed digital bill aims to permanently protect our democratic institutions from this malfeasance because the type of work Cambridge Analytica has engaged in will continue until we stand up for our very way of life.”

 

The Fair Vote Project was set up to tackle the issue of data misuse, voter manipulation and lack of transparency in elections head-on. We are committed to ensuring the institutions that protect our democratic processes are fit for purpose in a digital age.