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Brexit and Cambridge Analytica Links Could be Illegal

Ross Kelly


Margot James Privacy UK digital trade

Former Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser spoke to MP’s today, shedding more light on the links between the maligned firm and the 2016 Brexit Referendum campaign. 

Appearing before MP’s today, Brittany Kaiser shed light on the true extent of Cambridge Analytica’s involvement with the Leave.EU campaign and Ukip during the 2016 Brexit Referendum.

The explosive interview with MP’s saw Brittany Kaiser appear to expose the SNP for meeting with the data analytics firm on two occasions in the run up to the 2014 Independence Referendum. During her testimony she gave detailed insights in to the operations of Cambridge Analytica and SCL, explaining their data harvesting tactics and exposing the web of lies that surrounds the entire affair.

Brexit and Cambridge Analytica

Kaiser stated that Cambridge Analytica took Ukip membership and survey data to establish personality types – That data was then used to produce insights that could be used for targeted social media campaigns.

She later claimed that Cambridge Analytica never had a contract with Leave.EU, but did with Ukip and the former was set to ‘benefit’ from the arrangement. When asked by MP’s whether she was pitching specifically to Ukip or Leave.EU, Kaiser says she was pitching to the latter; although Ukip party secretary Matthew Richardson attending meetings.

Cambridge Analytica is said to have pitched Leave.EU on how it could use psychological profiling to micro-target people who were likely to vote in favour of leaving the European Union. This system is similar to that used during the 2016 US Elections in which the data of anywhere up to 80 million people was used to target American voters.

Kaised stated that: “the methodology was considered a weapon, weapons-grade communications tactics, which means that we had to tell the British government if it was going to be deployed in another country outside the United Kingdom.”

She added that in 2015 that the technique no longer had an export designation, meaning that the firm no longer had to inform government bodies if utilising the technique abroad.

The firm does admit that it pitched work to the Leave.EU campaign, however it denies having gone further. Richard Tice, a co-founder of Leave.EU backs this assertion up telling Today in an interview that they only made a “pitch and a proposal and received no data or undertook any modelling for Leave.EU.”

Kaiser’s statements today seem to be unravelling a complete web of lies and deceit. Each partner in this arrangement appears to be passing blame onto the others; with Communications Director for Leave.EU Andy Wigmore tweeting in response to Kaiser’s claims. He said that he and Arron Banks ought to be allowed to given evidence to the committee, also calling Damian Collins a liar and an “anti-Brexit fool.”

Combining Data

Kaiser told MP’s that she was concerned that Leave.EU may have broken laws in three main areas

Electoral law may have been broken due to the processes of Leave.EU and Cambridge Analytica because work that was carried out was not paid for.

The former director also had concerns that data from British citizens was sent abroad – contrary to UK law – for processing in Mississippi. She said: “If the Mississippi team has held or processed UK citizens’ data in the US, I believe that is likely to be a criminal offence; although it is for the empowered authorities to pursue any such question and secure the associated evidence.”

In a particularly concerning statement, Kaiser claims that Aaron Banks asked Cambridge Analytica to “combine workstreams” between UKIP, LeaveEU and his insurance company, Eldon Insurance, a gross breach of the Data Protection Act.

When asked whether or not Eldon Insurance data was used by Leave.EU, Kaiser said: “That’s what I saw with my own eyes.” and indicted that the misuse of data between political campaigns and Banks’ businesses was ‘rife’.

Kaiser told MP’s that when she visited Banks’ HQ, it was evident that the staff in the call centre did not know precisely what they were doing. According to her testimony, the call centre staff were connecting customers and asking them to take part in a survey about Brexit; little did they or the customers know that the information would be used by Leave.EU to generated profiles for targeting.

Further Reading

The Commons Committee has published three pieces of written evidence from Brittany Kaiser. These detail a proposal for how Cambridge Analytica could do psychographic targeting for the Leave.EU campaign, legal information regarding UKIP’s involvement with Cambridge Analytica and a written statement providing email transcripts between herself, Banks and other individuals involved.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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