The repeat grilling by the U.K. parliament’s DCMS committee today of Alexander Nix, the former CEO of the now ex fellowship Cambridge Analytica — aka the contentious government and business ad agency at the center of a Facebook data misuse scandal — was not able to molted much new light on “whats being” or is not able to have been going on inside the company.
But one piece of information Nix let slip were their lists of specific data aggregators he articulated Cambridge Analytica had bought” customer and lifestyle” information on U.S. voters from, to link to voter registration data it also paid to acquire — apparently employing that mixed database to structure examples to target American voters in the 2016 presidential election, rather than using data improperly obtained from Facebook.
This is more information than Cambridge Analytica has thus far to submit to one U.S. voter, professor David Carroll, who in January last year lodged a subject access seek with the U.K.-based company after reading it had treated his personal information — only to be fobbed off with a partial disclosure.
Carroll persisted, and made a complaint to the U.K.’s data protection watchdog, and last month the ICO required Cambridge Analytica to provide him with all the data it held on him. The deadline for that passed yesterday — with no response.
14/ Section 7 DPA compelled disclosure of Axciom, Experian as data source connection. SCL Election failed to disclose it. More evidence that my Subject Access Request was not adequate. This is the basis of my ICO complaint and supreme court assert.[ disruption]
— David Carroll (@ profcarroll) June 6, 2018
The committee investigated Nix closely over replies he had given it at his earlier illusion in February, when he denied that Cambridge Analytica employed Facebook data as the foundational data set for its political ad targeting business.
He had instead said that the work Dr. Aleksandr Kogan did for the company was ” abortive” and thus that the Facebook data Kogan had gathered and supplied to it had not been used.
” It wasn’t the foundational data set on which we built our corporation ,” remarked Nix today.” Because we went out and we licensed millions of data points on American individuals from very large reputable data aggregators and data marketers such as Acxiom, Experian, Infogroup. That is the backbone of our data base together with government data — voter register data, I beg your pardon — which again is commercially available in the United States. That is the backbone of our fellowship and on which we continued to build the company after we realized that the GSR data was fruitless .”
” The data that Dr. Kogan handed to us was modeled data and building a model on top of a simulation proved to be less statistically accurate … than actually exactly using Facebook’s own algorithms for locating promote communications. And that was what we found out ,” he supplemented.” So I stand by the following statement that I made to you before — and that was recall and amplified in something much technological detail by Dr. Kogan .”
And Kogan did indeed play down the continued relevance of the make he did for Cambridge Analytica — claiming it was essentially ineffective when he seemed before the meetings of the committee back in April.
Asked about the exact type of data Cambridge Analytica/ SCL acquired and managed from data agents, Nix told the committee:” This is largely — primarily — customer and lifestyle data. So this is data related to, for example, love poster data, deal data, this is data that pertains to lifestyle alternatives, such as what vehicle you drive or what magazines you read. It could be data related to consumer practices. And together with some demographic and geographical data — and undoubtedly the voter data, which is so important for U.S. politics .”
We’ve asked the three data brokers specified by Nix to justify Cambridge Analytica was a patron of theirs, and the types of data it licensed from them, and will revise such reports with any response.
Fake news committee told it’s been told fake news
What was most notable on this, Nix’s second figure in front of the DCMS committee — which is investigating the various roles and affect of bogus news/ online disinformation on the government process — were his attempts to alter the spotlight via a cord of rebellious self-denials that there was much of a gossip to see here.
He followed a Trumpian approach of trying to give himself( and his former company) as martyrs — enclose the floor as a liberal media conspiracy and claiming no evidence of evil or unethical behavior had been produced.
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Chris Wylie, who Nix had almost certainly caught view of sitting in the public gallery, was described as a” fierce and anxious” man who had acted out of rage and spite on account of the company’s success.
Though the committee pushed back against that characterization, pointing out that Wylie has provided copious certificates backing up his testimony, and that it has also taken attest from multiple sources — not just from one onetime employee.
Nix did not dispute the fact that the Facebook data-harvesting constituent of the scandal had been a “debacle,” as he settled it.
Though he reiterated Cambridge Analytica’s previous denial that it was ever the recipient of the full data set Kogan acquired from Facebook — which Facebook confirmed in April consisted of information on as numerous as 87 million of its consumers — saying it” simply received data on about 26 million-2 7 million individuals in the USA .”
He also admitted to privately being “foolish” in what he had been caught suggesting to an spy Channel 4 reporter — when he had appeared to suggest Cambridge Analytica employed tricks such as honeytraps and infiltration to gain leveraging against patients’ political opponents( comments that got him dangled as CEO ), saying he had only been talking in hypotheticals in his” overzealousness to procure a contract” — and once again painting himself as the victim of the” adroit manipulation of a writer .”
He also claimed the broadcaster had made his notes out of situation, claiming too that they had heavily edited the footage to make it seek worse( specific claims Channel 4 phoned in to the committee to “heavily” refute during the session ).
But those sole apologetic notes did not conjure the feeling of profound indignation Nix affected throughout almost the entire session.
He succeeded across as poised and well-versed in his channeled fury. Though he has of course had slew of meter since his earlier impression — when the narration has not been able to become a major scandal — to create a form of events that could best serve to set the dial to maximum outrage.
Nix likewise shut down various positions of the committee’s subjects, refusing to answer whether Cambridge Analytica/ SCL had gone on to repeat the Facebook data-harvesting programme at the core of the scandal themselves, for example.
Nor would he disclose who the owners and shareholders of Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group are — claiming in both cases that ongoing investigations prevented him from doing so.
Though, in the case provided for of the Information Commission’s Office’s ongoing investigation into social media analytics and political campaigning — which resulted in the guardian raiding the headquarters for Cambridge Analytica in March — committee chair Damian Collins made a extent of territory the ICO had assured it it has no objection to Nix asking its questions.
Nonetheless Nix declined.
He too refused to comment on fresh accusations printed in the FT advocating he had personally withdrawn$ 8 million from Cambridge Analytica before the company collapsed into administration.
Some explanations were forthcoming when the meetings of the committee pressed him for purposes of determining whether Aggregate IQ, a Canadian data company that has been linked to Cambridge Analytica, and which Nix described today as a “subcontractor” for certain pieces of manipulate, had ever had access to fresh data or modeled data that Cambridge Analytica held.
The committee’s likely those who are interested in pursing that wire of interrogating was to try to determine whether AIQ could have gained access to the cache of Facebook user data that acquired its highway( via Kogan) to Cambridge Analytica — and thus whether it could have worked it for its own political ad targeting purposes.
AIQ received PS3. 5 million from leave safarus radicals in the run up to the U.K.’s 2016 EU referendum campaign, and has been described by leave activists as instrumental in securing their winning, though exactly where it obtained data for targeting referendum ads has been a key question for the enquiry.
On this Nix added:” It wouldn’t be extraordinary for AIQ or Cambridge Analytica to work on a client’s data sets … And to have access to the data whilst we were working on them. But that didn’t entitle us to have any liberties over that data or any wherewithal to make a reproduce or hold any of that data ourselves.
” The liaison with AIQ would only be disparate to that — as a subcontractor who was “ve brought” to assist us on projections, they would have had, maybe, access to some of the data … whether that was modeled data or otherwise. But again that would be covered by the contract tie-in that we have with them .”
Though he also said he couldn’t devote a concrete response on whether or not AIQ had had access to any raw data, computing:” I did speak to my data unit prior to this hearing and they assured me there was no raw data that went into the Rippon platform[ voter action scaffold AIQ to construct Cambridge Analytica ]. I is simply defer to their expertise .”
Alexander Nix merely stated in live testament that what I spotted was not raw voter data.
Here’s the truth: I intentionally restraint from accessing the raw databases. I detected the usernames, passwords, and system orientations. All out in the open.
— Chris Vickery (@ VickerySec) June 6, 2018
Also on this, in prior indication to the committee Facebook said it did not trust AIQ had exploited the Facebook user data obtained via Kogan’s apps for targeting referendum ads because the company had utilized email address uploads to Facebook’s ad platform for targeting “many” of its ads during the referendum — and it remarked Kogan’s app has not been able to gleaned the email addresses of app installers or their friends.
( And in its evidence to the committee, AIQ’s COO Jeff Silvester likewise claimed:” The only personal information we use in our work is that which is provided to us by our purchasers for particular purpose. In doing so, we think we comply with all applicable privacy constitutions in all provinces and territories where we work .”)
Today Nix flat denied that Cambridge Analytica had played any capacity in the U.K.’s referendum campaign, despite the fact it was already known to have done some” scoping effort” for UKIP, and which it did invoice the company for( but claims not to have been paid ). Work which Nix did not deny had taken place but which he downplayed.
” We started some scoping work to look at these data. Unfortunately, whilst the results of this work was being undertaken, we did not agree on the terms of a contract, as a consequence the deliverables from this work were not handed down, and the debit was not paid. And hence the Electoral Commission was absolutely satisfied that we did not do any work for Leave.EU and that includes for UKIP ,” he said.
” At experiences we initiate eight, nine, 10 national elections a year somewhere around the world. We’ve never undertaken an electoral in the U.K. so I stand by my proclamation that the U.K. was not a target country of interest to us. Undoubtedly the referendum was a unique time in international campaigning and for that reason it was more significant than perhaps other opportunities to work on political campaigns might well which was why we researched it. But we didn’t work on that expedition either .”
In a less cozy time for Nix, committee member Christian Matheson referred to a Cambridge Analytica document that the committee had obtained — described as a” digital synopsi” — and which registered” denial of services that are attacks” amongst the” digital interventions” apparently being offered by it as services.
Did “youve been” undertake any denial of services that are assaults, Nix was requested?
” So this was a company that we looked at wording, and we never formed. And that firm never engaged any act whatsoever ,” he answered.” In provide answers to your subject , no we didn’t .”
Why did you consider it, meditated Matheson?
” Uh, at the time we were looking at, uh, different engineerings, expanding into different technological areas and, uh, this seemed like, uh, an interesting, uh, uh, business, but we didn’t have the capability was perhaps the truth to be able to deliver meaningfully in this business ,” alleged Nix. “So.”
Matheson:” Was it illegal at that time ?”
Nix:” I certainly don’t know. I can’t been talking to technology like that .”
Matheson:” Right. Because it’s illegal now .”
Nix:” Right. I don’t know. It’s not something that we ever improved. It’s not something that we ever undertook. Uh, it’s a company that was never recognized .”
Matheson:” The only reason I query is because it would give me concern that you have the mens rea to undertake activities which are, perhaps, outside the existing legislation. But if “youve never” led ahead and did it, fair enough .”
Another moment of tendernes for Nix was when the committee pulped him about coin conveys between Cambridge Analytica/ SCL’s various entities in the U.S. and U.K. — pointing out that if funding is being shifted from all the regions of the Atlantic for government cultivate and not being declared that could be legally problematic.
Though he fended this off by worsening to ask — again citing ongoing investigations.
He was also asked where the various people had been based when Cambridge Analytica had been doing work for U.S. safaruss and treating U.S. voters’ data — with Collins pointing out that if that had been taking place outside the U.S. it could be illegal under U.S. constitution. But again he declined to answer.
” I’d love to explain this to you. But this again touches on some of these investigations — I plainly can’t do that ,” he said.