The more details that emerge about the inner workings of Cambridge Analytica, the data company that helped Trump seize the White House, the worse the picture becomes.
Earlier today, bombshell footage was released of senior executives at Cambridge Analytica bragging about bribing and extorting politicians. The two men were unaware they were being filmed by investigative journalists so the recordings offer a rare and candid glimpse behind the curtain, and what they reveal is deeply disturbing. It’s clearly a company comfortable stepping over serious moral and perhaps even legal lines.
The footage was released at an especially bad time for Cambridge Analytica as they’re currently under fire for exploiting Facebook to get data on tens of millions of users in what some are referring to as a stunning data breach. A psychology professor created an app on Facebook that claimed it was gathering data for purely academic purposes, but secretly he was passing the information along to Cambridge Analytica without the users’ knowledge.
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The public outcry was immediate and now lawmakers in the United Kingdom, where Cambridge Analytica operates, are exploring steps to prevent future incidents like this breach. In order to do that, the government will need to get a better idea of exactly what kind of data practices companies like Cambridge Analytica are conducting behind the scenes.
It appears that Analytica’s problems are about to get much worse. Markets Insider reports that British Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is seeking a warrant to raid Cambridge Analytica’s headquarters and seize its servers. Denham announced her investigation into the company over the weekend and is now clearly escalating it.
She released an official statement on the controversy:
“A full understanding of the facts, data flows and data uses is imperative for my ongoing investigation. This includes any new information, statements or evidence that have come to light in recent days.
“Our investigation into the use of personal data for political campaigns, includes the acquisition and use of Facebook data by SCL, Doctor Kogan and Cambridge Analytica.
“This is a complex and far reaching investigation for my office and any criminal or civil enforcement actions arising from it will be pursued vigorously.”
It’s still unclear exactly what kind of covertly harvested data Cambridge Analytica will be caught in possession of, but the answers will provide some much-needed clarity on precisely how the company, contracted with the help of Jared Kushner, influenced the 2016 election and what lengths they went to in order to get our incompetent president elected.