Company used hacked data in ‘privatized colonizing operation’

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A company linked to controversial consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used hacked personal information for a “privatized colonizing operation” in developing countries such as Nigeria, according to a whistleblower.


Christopher Wiley, a former research director for the company who blew the lid off of its use of Facebook data earlier this month, testified before a committee of British Parliament on Tuesday, and exposed more bombshell claims about what his former employer did around the world.


Cambridge Analytica, which had the data for 50 million Facebook users, was led in part by Steve Bannon and worked for the Trump campaign’s digital operation. Another company under the umbrella of SCL Group worked for the Leave campaign before the UK’s Brexit vote.


Wiley said that the Canadian-based company that worked on Brexit, Aggregate IQ, was a “franchise” of SCL and built the software that Cambridge Analytica and others used for its election operations.

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He said Tuesday that it had previously been involved in Nigerian elections, and had an Israeli company called Black Cube to hack private health data from current Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari.


Buhari won election in 2015, but had unsuccessfully run three times before, when Wiley said that Aggregate IQ handled the hacked data and also distributed threatening anti-Islamic videos that showed people’s throats being cut in an effort to intimidate voters.

Wiley said that data taken from Facebook was used in the Ripon program used by Cambridge Analytica.

Wiley said that data taken from Facebook was used in the Ripon program used by Cambridge Analytica.

(Shawn Inglima/for New York Daily News)


Undercover footage aired by the UK’s Channel 4 also showed now-suspended Cambridge Analytica leader Alexander Nix, who said that his company could use prostitutes to entrap candidates.


A Guardian article had previously pointed to the company handling hacked data from Nigeria and St. Kitts and Nevis.

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“They could care less as to whether or not their work is compliant because they like to win,” Wiley said Tuesday.


He later added that while influencing elections in developing countries was not overly profitable the company would make its real money by introducing government ministers to businessmen in what he called a “privatized colonizing operation.”


Wiley also said that he believes that the number of Facebook users whose data was taken by Cambridge was actually far higher than the 50 million that has been reported.

Wiley said that a Cambridge Analytica-linked company handled hacked data from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari..

Wiley said that a Cambridge Analytica-linked company handled hacked data from Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari..

(Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)


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.


The article shows that the code for Ripon, the advertising software named after the Wisconsin town where the Republican Party was found, was written by AggregateIQ.


Wiley said it was “categorically untrue that Cambridge Analytica has never used Facebook data” that was taken in the 2016 election, as the Facebook data was foundational for creating Ripon.


Cambridge Analytica said in a statement on Twitter Tuesday morning that “We were able to move on without the GSR data. We had already commissioned new surveys, built new research instruments and invested in commercial data sets. Our algorithms and models bear no trace of it.”


It said that had deleted the data and added that “Christopher Wylie was a part-time contractor who left in July 2014 and has no direct knowledge of our work or practices since that date.”

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