What does the Cambridge Analytica scandal mean for Labour's digital campaign strategy?

30 March, 2018, 00:49 | Author: Lynette Payne
  • Zuckerberg's ads apologizing for a data breach that leaked details from 50 million Facebook users ran in the New York Times Washington Post and Wall Street Journal in the US

After alleging Cambridge Analytica's link with Congress, whistle-blower Christopher Wylie today revealed CA's India operation details in association with SCL group.

During the 2016 USA presidential election campaign, Cambridge Analytica used the data to target undecided voters in swing states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all of which were won by Trump.

After Chris Wylie, the whistleblower in the Cambridge Analytica (CA) data breach scandal, said that Congress had hired his company, the Congress refuted any such claim.

"It is what modern day colonialism looks like", he told the MPs.

According to Scroll, the British behavioural research company's Indian arm carried out surveys of voters for Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal (United) during the 2010 Bihar Assembly elections, as well as for a "major political party" during the 2007 polls in Uttar Pradesh.

It said the company has a database of over 600 districts and seven lakh villages. The information disclosed by Wylie shows that SCL worked on collecting data for political parties between 2003 and 2011 for many states, including Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Kerala, Assam and Jharkhand. To the most frequently asked question - yes, SCL/CA works in India and has offices there. "They have an office in India", Wylie responded. Wylie, on Tuesday, stated that he believed "Congress was a client" of CA.

In 2009 general elections, SCL India managed the campaigns of a number of Lok Sabha candidates, and its research and campaign data collection methodologies formed strategies to give the clients successful campaigns. "These are people that don't need to make a lot of money, but the thing I learned is that for certain wealthy people, they need something to keep them occupied", Wylie said.

Minister Prasad asked Congress Party leader Rahul Gandhi, to "explain" the role of Cambridge Analytica in his social media outreach and whether the party had engaged in data trade with the firm.

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I think this should be allowed to go forward and all efforts should be geared towards making the timetable a great success.

From 2014, CA obtained data of as many as 50 million Facebook users.

He also stressed how the different parts of SCL Group worked together, and pointed to a recent Gizmodo article showing that AggregateIQ, which said that it did not enter into a contract with Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica reportedly has not completely deleted the Facebook data it acquired.

Meanwhile, Divya Spandana, head of social media for the Congress party, has told journalist Barkha Dutt that Cambridge Analytica recently approached the Congress party to work on the 2019 elections but the Congress turned it down.

A report in the Bucharest Herald at the time of his death said he was a 32 year-old LSE graduate, who had coordinated election campaigns in Europe, Africa and the US.

The revelation has also anxious lawmakers in the United States and the United Kingdom about the extent to which Cambridge Analytica influenced voters during the 2016 USA elections and the Brexit referendum earlier that year. Although Facebook said that it stopped the practice that allowed the Trump-linked firm to collect so much personal data from the platform, the episode highlighted popular unease about the site's obtuse privacy settings and vulnerability to scammers, fake news merchants, and other bad actors.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also made a decision to testify before the US Congress, in person.


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