A UK parliamentary committee has published brand-new indication fleshing out how membership data was guided from UKIP, a pro-Brexit political party, to Leave.EU, a Brexit supporting campaign active in the 2016 EU referendum — via the dishonor and now defunct data company, Cambridge Analytica.
In evidence sessions last year, during the DCMS committee’s enquiry into online disinformation, it was told by both the former CEO of Cambridge Analytica, and the central fiscal benefactor of the Leave.EU campaign, the businessman Arron Banks, that Cambridge Analytica did no work for the Leave.EU campaign.
Documents published today by the committee clearly belie that narrative — uncovering internal communication about the use of a UKIP dataset to create voter profiles to be implemented” national microtargeting” for Leave.EU.
They likewise testify CA staff farm concerns about the legality of the plan to model UKIP data to enable Leave.EU to identify and target responsive voters with pro-Brexit messaging.
The UK’s 2016 in-out EU referendum watched the voting public narrowing voting to leave — by 52:48.
New evidence from Brittany Kaiser
The evidence, which includes emails between key Cambridge Analytica, employees of Leave.EU and UKIP, has been submitted to the DCMS committee by Brittany Kaiser — a former head of CA( who you may really have identified occupying a primary role in Netflix’s The Great Hack film, which excavates into links between the Trump campaign and the Brexit campaign ).
We have just publicized brand-new attest from Brittany Kaiser is applicable to Cambridge Analytica, UKIP and Leave EU – you are able to spoke them all now @CommonsCMS https :// t.co/ 2LjfJiozO6 #TheGreatHack
— Damian Collins (@ DamianCollins) July 30, 2019
” As “youre seeing” with the evidence … chargeable office was completed for UKIP and Leave.EU, and I have strong reasons to believe that those datasets and analysed data handled by Cambridge Analytica as part of a Phase 1 payable wield involvement … were later used by the Leave.EU campaign without Cambridge Analytica’s greater assistance ,” writes Kaiser in a deal letter to committee chair, Damian Collins, summarizing the submissions.
Kaiser held oral prove to the committee at a public hearing in April last year.
At the time she said CA had been undertaking parallel degrees for Leave.EU and UKIP — as well as for two guarantee brands owned by Banks — and had used membership survey data provided by UKIP to construct a prototype for pro-brexit voter personality types, with the intent of it being used” to benefit Leave.EU “.
” We never had a contract with Leave.EU. The contract was with the UK Independence party for the analysis of this data, but it was meant to benefit Leave.EU ,” she said then.
The brand-new emails submitted by Kaiser back up her earlier manifestation. They also evidence there was discussion of drawing up a contract between CA, UKIP and Leave.EU in the drop-off before the referendum vote.
In one email — dated November 10, 2015 — CA’s COO& CFO, Julian Wheatland, writes that:” I had a call with[ Leave.EU’s] Andy Wigmore today( Arron’s right hand man) and he confirmed that, even though we haven’t got the contract with the Leave written up, it’s all under control and it will happen just as soon as[ UKIP-linked lawyer] Matthew Richardson has finished working out the rectify contract organization between UKIP, CA and Leave .”
Another part Kaiser has submitted to the committee is a separate November email from Wigmore, inviting press to a briefing by Leave.EU — entitled” how to prevail the EU referendum” — an affair at which Kaiser yielded a slope on CA’s work. In this email Wigmore describes the firm as” the nations of the world heading target voter messaging activists “.
In another document, CA’s Wheatland is shown in an email thread ahead of that presentation instruct Wigmore and Richardson” we need to agree the line in the presentations next week with regards the parentage of the data we have analysed “.
” We are creating some interesting detects that we can share in the presentation, but we are certain to be asked where the data came from. Can we declare that we have analysed UKIP membership and survey data ?” he then asks.
UKIP’s Richardson replies with a negative, saying:” I would rather we didn’t, to be honest” — adding that he has a meeting with Wigmore to discuss” all of this”, and aiming with:” We will have a plan by the end of that lunch, I believe “.
In another email, dated November 10, sent to multiple recipients ahead of the presentation, Wheatland writes:” We need to start educating Brittany’s lecture, which will involve working with some of the penetrations David[ Wilkinson, CA’s main data scientist] has been able to glean from the UKIP membership data .”
He likewise expects Wilkinson if he can start to” share insights from the UKIP data” — as well as inviting” when are we coming the rest of the data ?”.( In a last-minute email, dated November 16, Wilkinson shares plots of pattern data with Kaiser — apparently testifying the UKIP data now segmented into four blocks of brexit backers, which have been specified:’ Eager activist ‘;’ Young reformer ‘;’ Disaffected Tories ‘; and’ Left behinds ‘.)
In the same email Wheatland notifies Jordanna Zetter, an employee of CA’s parent company SCL, to brief Kaiser on” how to field a variety of questions about CA and our approach, but likewise SCL. Rest of the world, SCL Defence etc” — inviting her to liaise with other key SCL/ CA staff to” cause some’ argument to make’ indicates “.
Another document in the parcel appears to show Kaiser’s talking extents for the instruction. These acquire no mention of CA’s intention to carry out” national microtargeting” for Leave.EU — purely saying it is currently conducting” content testing and audience segmentation “.
” We will be working with the campaign’s pollsters and other marketers to compile all the data we have available to us ,” is another of the bland talking objects Kaiser was instructed to feed to the press.
” Our unit of data scientists will conduct deep-dive analysis that will enable us to understand the electorate better than the antagonist safaruss ,” is one more unenlightening line intended for public consumption.
But while CA was preparing to present the UK media with a sanitized false narrative to gloss over the individual voter targeting work it actually intended to carry out for Leave.EU, behind the scenes concerns were being raised about how” national microtargeting” would conflict with UK data protection law.
Another email thread, started November 19, highlights internal discussion about the legality of the plan — with Wheatland sharing” written advice from Queen’s Counsel on the question of how we can legally process data in the UK, specific UKIP’s data for Leave.eu and also more generally “.( Although Kaiser has not shared the legal advice itself .)
Wilkinson replies to this email with what he couches as “some concerns” respect shortfalls in the relevant recommendations, before going into detail on how CA is intending to further process the modelled UKIP data in order to individually microtarget brexit voters — which he indicates would not be legal under UK data protection law” as the identification of these beings would constitute personal data “.
He writes 😛 TAGEND
I have some concerns about what the present document says is our ” output”- degrees 22 to 24. Whilst it includes what we have already done on their data( clustering and initial profiling of their members, and providing this to them as summary info ), it is not say anything about working the patterns of the assembles that we compose to extrapolate to new individuals and infer their sketch. In fact it was of the view that our output does not identify individuals. Thus it says nothing about our microtargeting coming ordinary in the US, which I conclude was something that we wanted to do with leave eu data to identify how each their supporters should be contacted according to their extrapolated profile.
For example, we wouldn’t be able to show which members are likely to belong to group A and thus should be messaged in this particular way- as the purpose of determining these parties would constitute personal data. We could only say ” radical A often looks like this summary profile “.
Wilkinson ends by asking for clarification ahead of a looming meeting with Leave.EU, saying:” It would be really useful to have this clarified early on tomorrow, because I was under the impression it would be a large part of our concoction offering to our UK patrons .” [< em> emphasis ours ]
Wheatland follows up with a one word email, querying Richardson to” provide comments on David’s concern” — where it was chips into the discussion, saying there’s” some jumble at our death about where this data is coming from and going to see “.
He goes on to summarize the “premises” of the relevant recommendations he says UKIP was given viewing sharing the data with CA( and afterwards the modelled data with Leave.EU, as he connotes is the plan) — writing that his understanding is that CA will return:” Analysed Data to UKIP”, and then:” As the Analysed Dataset contains no personal data UKIP are free to give that Analysed Dataset to anyone else to do with what they wish. UKIP will give the Analysed Dataset to Leave.EU “.
” Could you please confirm that the above is correct ?” Richardson goes on.” Do I also understand correctly that CA then intend to use the Analysed Dataset and overlay it on Leave.EU’s legitimately acquired data to generalize( interpolate) sketches for each of their contributors so as to better control the messaging that leave.eu sends out to those advocates?
” Is the committee is also compensate that CA then intend to use the Analysed Dataset and overlay it on publicly available data to deduce( interpolate) which members of the public are most likely to become Leave.EU supporters and what themes would encourage them to do so?
” If these appreciates are not correct please let me know and I will give you a call to discuss this .”
About half an hour later another SCL Group employee, Peregrine Willoughby-Brown, participates the discussion to back up Wilkinson’s legal concerns.
” The[ Queen’s Counsel] mind exclusively seems to be an analysis of the legality of the manipulate we have already done for UKIP, rather than any judgement on whether or not we can do microtargeting. As such, whilst it is helpful to know that we haven’t already end the laws and regulations, it doesn’t offer clear lead on how we can proceed with reference to a larger scope of run ,” he writes without self-evident fright at the opportunities that the part campaign scheme are likely to be illegal under UK privacy law.
” I haven’t read it in adequate profundity to know whether or not it offers indirect revelation into how we could proceed with national microtargeting, which it may do ,” he contributes — discontinuing by saying he and a colleague will discuss it further “later today”.
It’s not clear whether concerns about the legality of the microtargeting plan forestalled the signing of any formal contract between Leave.EU and CA — even though the documents imply data was shared, even if exclusively during the scoping stage of the work.
” The information remains that chargeable slog was to be undertaken by Cambridge Analytica, at the direction of Leave.EU and UKIP administrations, despite a contract never being signed ,” writes Kaiser in her cros letter to the committee on this.” Despite having no signed contract, the statement was still paid , not to Cambridge Analytica but instead paid by Arron Banks to UKIP directly. This payment was then not passed onto Cambridge Analytica for the employ accomplished, as an internal decision in UKIP, as their party was not the beneficiary of the work, but Leave.EU was .”
Kaiser has also shared a introduction of the UKIP survey data, which gives the names of three academics: Harold Clarke, University of Texas at Dallas& University of Essex; Matthew Goodwin, University of Kent; and Paul Whiteley, University of Essex, which items results from the online portion of the membership survey — aka the core dataset CA posed for targeting Brexit voters with the intention of helping the Leave.EU campaign.
( At a glimpse, the survey results proposes there’s an interesting analysis waiting to be done of the choice of target demographics for the current blitz of safarus send testing ads being run on Facebook by the new( pro-brexit) UK prime minister Boris Johnson and the core UKIP demographic, as revealed by the survey data …)
[ hall ids= “1 862050,1862051, 1862052 “]
Call for Leave.EU probe to be reopened
Ian Lucas, MP, a member of the DCMS committee has claimed responsibility for the UK’s Electoral Commission to re-open its investigation into Leave.EU in view of” additional attest” from Kaiser.
The EC should re-open their investigation into LeaveEU in view of the added proof from Brittany Kaiser via @CommonsCMS
— Ian Lucas MP (@ IanCLucas) July 30, 2019
We contacted out to the Electoral Commission to ask if it is likely to be revisiting the matter.
An Electoral Commission spokesperson told us: “We are considering this new information in relation to our persona regulating campaigner task at the EU referendum. This relates to the 10 week stage leading up to the referendum and to campaigning work specifically aimed at persuading beings to vote for a specific outcome.
“Last July we did impose significant retributions on Leave.EU for committing multiple offences under electoral law at the EU Referendum, including for submitting an incomplete spending return.”
Last year the Electoral Commission likewise found that government officials Vote Leave Brexit campaign broke the law by breaching election campaign spending restraints. It channelled money to a Canadian data conglomerate linked to Cambridge Analytica to target political ads on Facebook’splatform, via undeclared joint working with a youth-focused Brexit campaign, BeLeave.
Six months back the UK’s data watchdog also issued fines against Leave.EU and Banks’ insurance company, Eldon Insurance — having observe what it dubbed as “serious” breaches of electronic commerce principles, including the campaign using insurance customers’ details to unlawfully to send almost 300,000 political marketing messages.
A spokeswoman for the ICO told us it does not have a statement on Kaiser’s latest sign but added that its enforcement team” will be reviewing the above-mentioned documents released after DCMS “.
The regulator has been running a wider enquiry into use of personal data for social media political campaigning. And last year the information commissioner called for an ethical pause on its use — warning that trust in republic risked being undermined.
And while Facebook has since exercised a thin cinema of’ political ads’ clarity to its pulpit( which studies continue to warn is not virtually translucent enough to quantify political utilize of its ads pulpit ), UK election campaign regulations have yet to be updated to take account of the digital firehoses now( il) liberally influencing policy debate and public opinion at scale.
It’s now more than three years since the UK’s sicken poll to leave the European Union — a referendum that has even further delivered three years of controversial political chaos, despatching two prime ministers and derailing politics and policymaking as usual.
Many questions remain over a referendum that continues to be dogged by gossips — from breaches of campaign spending; to breaches of data protection and privacy rule; and undoubtedly the implementation of its unregulated social media — principally Facebook’s ad pulpit — as the inclined conduit for distributing racist dogwhistle attack ads and political misinformation to whip up anti-EU sentiment among UK voters.
Dark money, dark ads — and the importing of US style campaign tricks into UK, thwarting poll and data protection laws by the digital scaffold backdoor.
This is why the DCMS committee’s initial report last year called on the government to take” urgent action” to “build resilience against misinformation and disinformation into our democratic system”.
The very same minority government, struggling to hold itself together in the face of Brexit chaos, failed to respond to the committee’s concerns — and has now been replaced by a cadre of the most militant Brexit patrons, who are applying their hands to the cheap and plentiful digital campaign levers.
The UK’s new “ministers “, Boris Johnson, is demonstrably double-dealing down on political microtargeting: Appointing no less than Dominic Cummings, the campaign director of the official Vote Leave campaign, as a special advisor.
At the same time Johnson’s unit is firing out a flotilla of Facebook ads — including ads that appear intended to gather voter sentiment for the purpose of crafting individually targeted political sends for any future election campaign.
So it’s full steam ahead with the Facebook ads…
Yet this’ democratic reset’ is laid right atop the Brexit trainwreck. It’s coupled to it, in fact.
Cummings worked for the ego same Vote Leave campaign that the Electoral Commission ascertained illegally poured money — via Cambridge Analytica-linked Canadian data house AggregateIQ — into a offensive of microtargeted Facebook ads is my intention sway voter opinion.
Vote Leave too faced questions over its use of Facebook-run football competitionpromising a PS50M prize-pot to supporters in exchange for handing over a assortment of personal data ahead of the referendum, including how they planned to vote. Another data grab wrap in fancy dress — much like GSR’s thisisyourlife quiz app that provided the foundational dataset for CA’s psychological voter profiling work on the Trump campaign.
The elevating of Cummings to be special adviser to the UK PM represents the polar opposite of an’ ethical intermission’ in political microtargeting.
Make no mistake, this is the Brexit campaign playbook — back in operation , now with full-bore pedal to the metal.( With his hands now on the public purse, Johnson has pledged to spend PS1 00 M on market to sell a’ no spate Brexit’ to the UK public .)
Kaiser’s recent prove may not contain a smoking projectile big enough to blast the issue of data-driven and tech giant-enabled voter manipulation into a mainstream consciousness, where it might have the chance to reset the political conscience of a society — but it puts more flesh on the bones of how the self-styled’ bad boys of Brexit’ pulled off their collapse win.
In The Great Hack the Brexit campaign is couched as the’ petri bowl’ for the data-fuelled targeting deployed by the firm in the 2016 US presidential election — which delivered a similarly sicken succes for Trump.
If that’s so, these recent portions of evidence imply a suggestively close link between CA’s experimental modelling of UKIP supporter data, as it altered gears to implement it dark artworks closer to home than customary, and the simulations it subsequently constructed off of US citizens’ data sucked out of Facebook. And that in turn croaks some room to explaining the cosiness between Trump and UKIP benefactor Nigel Farage…
So Donald Trump requires Nigel Farage on any busines negotiating unit?
Maybe this is how #Brexit will be terminated?
Not with a bang , not with a cliff shape, but with a great Tory shriek of abhorrence? #nodealbrexit #ridge #marr #bbcbh #farage pic.twitter.com/ iCn6hd 9eka
— chant hedges (@ carolJhedges) July 28, 2019
Kaiser intents her letter to DCMS writing:” Given the enormity of the implications of earlier inaccurate agreements by different investigations, I would hope that Parliament reconsiders the evidence submitted here in good faith. I hope that these ten documents are helpful to your research and furthering the transparency and truth that your investigations are seeking, and that the people of the UK and EU deserve “.
Banks and Wigmore have responded to the publication in their usual style, with a pair of insulting tweets — questioning Kaiser’s reasons for demanding the data to be published and throwing shade on how the evidence was obtained in the first place.
You planned the professional whistleblower who’s making a career of shaping substance up with a notebook treat and miscarried Netflix film! The witch-hunt so last season !! https :// t.co/ f2rsPfoDdT
— Arron Banks (@ Arron_banks) July 30, 2019