The whistleblower who publicly revealed how Trump-affiliated data firm Cambridge Analytica used information mined from Facebook under false pretenses during the 2016 election cycle will give an interview to Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee as part of their investigation of Russian interference in the election, including possible ties to Donald Trump’s campaign.
A lawyer for Christopher Wylie confirmed Tuesday that Wylie plans to accept the invitation from the committee’s ranking Democrat, Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.).
Schiff said Monday that panel Democrats want to talk to Wylie to determine where and how the Facebook data was stored and used, and whether others — including Russian operatives — had access to it.
“Indeed, it may be that through Cambridge Analytica, the Trump campaign made use of illegitimately-acquired data on millions of Americans to help sway the election,” Schiff said in a statement.
Democrats on the House panel vowed last week to continue to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign, despite the committee’s Republican leaders announcing that they had completed a draft report about the panel’s findings. The panel is expected to approve a final version of that report Thursday, although it will not be released publicly until the intelligence community reviews it and makes any necessary redactions.
House Democrats do not have independent power to subpoena witnesses to testify. But Wylie has been outspoken about how Cambridge Analytica — a company he helped build, according to a profile in the Guardian — planned to use the Facebook users’ data and an algorithm to build “psychographic” profiles that could be used to predict the political leanings of every potential American voter.
Facebook gave permission to University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan to access information on 270,000 users of the social media site to help build a quiz app called “thisisyourdigitallife.” But the app’s reach went much further, ultimately allowing Kogan to access data on 50 million users. The information was passed on to Cambridge Analytica and Wylie, breaking the terms struck with Facebook for access to the data. Facebook found out about the events in 2015, but was told that Cambridge Analytica, Wylie and Kogan had deleted the data. Several days ago, Facebook discovered that they had not.
Last year, the House Intelligence Committee spoke with Wylie’s former boss Alexander Nix — the chief executive of Cambridge Analytica — by videoconference, as Nix is located in London.
Schiff stressed in his invitation to Wylie that his accounts of Cambridge Analytica’s data operations “raise serious questions about the veracity of the testimony” Nix gave to the committee.
This is gratifying for a couple of reasons. First, and most obviously, we might get some information on any Russia connection (Kogan being well-connected to Russia).
Secondly, it demonstrates how the Republicans on the House Intel Committee forced a premature ending to their investigation of Trump-Russia collusion. Might the Cambridge Analytica avenue be a dead end? Perhaps. But it needs investigating, and since the House Intel Committee already saw fit to interview Nix, then Wylie’s testimony is also relevant.
The North Carolina Republican party and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) paid the controversial British data firm Cambridge Analytica $345,000 for a direct mail campaign and consulting work, the News & Observer reported Monday.
Cambridge Analytica, which the Trump campaign used during the 2016 election, has recently come under fire after reports that it illegally obtained the private Facebook profiles of 50 million people, but there is no indication that the firm used any data from the breach in their work with the North Carolina Republicans.
The firm consulted Tillis on his successful 2014 campaign.
Dallas Woodhouse, the state’s GOP executive director, said the firm did not work on social media for the party and that the party does not plan to hire them again.
An undercover investigation by London’s Channel 4 secretly filmed the CEO of the firm saying that he used bribes and sex workers to entrap politicians in compromising situations.
Cambridge Analytica has denied using bribes, entrapment “or so-called honey-traps” and said that it did not use data harvested from Facebook profiles for the Trump campaign.
The firm has also said that, contrary to reports, it deleted all the Facebook data it had accumulated.
Yup. North Carolina GOP was one of CA’s biggest non-presidential race clients. In fact, the NC GOP was the only state party client of Cambridge Analytica. It was the firm’s fourth-largest client in 2014. These are the payments to CA from June 2014 to December 2016, according to FEC filings.
I wish we could find out exactly what it was FOR, but given the NC GOP’s penchant for minority voter suppression, I can give an educated guess.