Cambridge Analytica defends company saying they are no Bond villain

  • Cambridge Analytica spokesman said the firm has been unfairly criticised
  • He said no data from Aleksandr Kogan's GSR app used in the Trump campaign
  • Clarence Mitchell said CA not involved in the Brexit referendum 'in any form' 
  • Aleksandr Kogan gave evidence to the culture committee inquiry into fake news
  • He said Facebook handed him data about users without a privacy agreement 
  • Mr Kogan developed app which harvested data of around 100m Facebook  users

By Kate Ferguson, Political Correspondent For Mailonline

Published: 07:06 EDT, 24 April 2018 | Updated: 12:19 EDT, 24 April 2018

Cambridge Analytica today came out fighting against claims it used plundered Facebook data to sway voters to back Brexit and Donald Trump. 

The firm has been accused of using the app GSR - developed by Aleksandr Kogan - to get information from 100 million Facebook users.

It is alleged they use the information to run political campaigns to run political campaign to 'brainwash' voters in the crunch votes in the UK and America.

But Cambridge Analyticia (CA) spokesman Clarence Mitchell tore into the claims and accused some critics of unfairly going after the firm.

He told a press conference in London: 'The company has been portrayed as some kind of Bond villain – Cambridge Anayltica is no Bond villain.'

He also said that CA has had not been involved 'in any way shape or form' in the Brexit referendum campaign.  

The remarks comes after Cambridge University researcher Dr Kogan told MPs his data had been used by CA.

Clarence Mitchell, Cambridge Analytica  spokesman , (pictured in London for a press conference this afternoon) said: 'The company has been portrayed is some bond villain – Cambridge Anayltica is no bond villain'
Clarence Mitchell, Cambridge Analytica  spokesman , (pictured in London for a press conference this afternoon) said: 'The company has been portrayed is some bond villain – Cambridge Anayltica is no bond villain'

Clarence Mitchell, Cambridge Analytica  spokesman , (pictured in London for a press conference this afternoon) said: 'The company has been portrayed is some bond villain – Cambridge Anayltica is no bond villain'

Aleksandr Kogan (pictured today giving evidence to MPs in parliament)  said the firm gave him information on the number of friendships struck between different countries and the emotions users were feeling.
Aleksandr Kogan (pictured today giving evidence to MPs in parliament)  said the firm gave him information on the number of friendships struck between different countries and the emotions users were feeling.

Aleksandr Kogan (pictured today giving evidence to MPs in parliament)  said the firm gave him information on the number of friendships struck between different countries and the emotions users were feeling.

In a day of fresh development in the Cambridge Analytica Facebook data breach scandal: 

  • Cambridge Analytica spokesman Clarence Mitchell said it was wrong to say the firm 'brainwashed' voters to back Donald Trump and Brexit
  • He said the firm played no role 'in any way shape or form' in the EU referendum
  • Mr Mitchell said the firm deleted the data as soon as Facebook alerted them to a possible data breach
  • He said information from Aleksandra Kogan's app GSR was 'virtually useless'
  • Dr Kogan told MPs his data was used by the firm - but admitted it had little value

Mr Mitchell told reporters it was totally wrong to suggest that the firm 'somehow brainwashed or forced people' to back Brexit or Mr Trump.

He said: 'Cambridge Analytica did not harvest or somehow steal on mass this data, we did not control it as (Cambridge Analytica whistleblower) Chris Wylie has claimed.

Aleksandr Kogan also known as Sprectre - like the James Bond villains

Aleksandr Kogan told MPs that he and his wife changed their surname to Spectre - like the shadoy criminal organisation featured in James Bond (pictured)
Aleksandr Kogan told MPs that he and his wife changed their surname to Spectre - like the shadoy criminal organisation featured in James Bond (pictured)

Aleksandr Kogan told MPs that he and his wife changed their surname to Spectre - like the shadoy criminal organisation featured in James Bond (pictured)

The Cambridge researcher at the centre of the data harvesting scandal renamed himself Sprectre - like the shadowy James Bond criminal gang.

Aleksandr Kogan told MPs that he and his wife changed their surname to Spectre.

He said they did this because they wanted a new surname after they married which had something to do with light.

But Labour MP Ian Lucas pointed out that it was the same as the famous criminal network which feature in the James Bond films.

Mr Lucas said: 'Spectre is also the name of the evil organisation in James Bond films.'

Laughing, Mr Kogan said it is 'an unfortunate coincidence' and he had not heard of the Bond villains when he picked the name. 

'Cambridge Analytica was not the only recipient of that data….Christopher Wylie's own company which he later set up received the largest amount of data

'We were concerned and alarmed when Facebook said that Kogan took the data in breach of conditions.

'From that moment on Cambridge Analytica has deleted the data.'    

He said the data extracted from Mr Kogan's app was shown to be 'virtually useless' - only slightly better than 'random guessing'.

He added: '‘The reality of what happened is this – Cambridge Analytica has never worked for any of the Brexit campaigns….

‘To suggest that somehow not working on the campaign not using the Kogan data had somehow brainwashed and forced people to vote in the Trump and Brexit campaigns is rankly insulting

The company has been portrayed as some kind of Bond villain – Cambridge Anayltica is no Bond villain.' 

Damian Collins, chairman of the culture select committee which is probing the scandal, said there was evidence that CAM had used the information from Dr Kogan's app.

He told Sky News: 'A lot of the damage done to this company has come from the words of the executives themselves.' 

The Conservative MP also said he does not trust the internal investigation CA has set up into the scandal.

He said: 'What they should do is make themselves open and available to the information commissioner - this requires ope investigation into whether the UK's data laws were broken and that's why the information commissioner needs to be involved.'

The remarks came in yet another day of revelations about the Facebook data harvesting scandal. 

Far from being a 'rogue operator' he was working with the social media giant for years before the controversy, MPs on the culture and media select committee (pictured today) heard
Far from being a 'rogue operator' he was working with the social media giant for years before the controversy, MPs on the culture and media select committee (pictured today) heard

Far from being a 'rogue operator' he was working with the social media giant for years before the controversy, MPs on the culture and media select committee (pictured today) heard

In evidence to MP earlier today, Mr Kogan also said Facebook handed him data back in 2013 without signing a privacy agreement.

He said they gave him information on the number of friendships struck between different countries and the emotions users were feeling. 

What are the accusations against Cambridge Analytica?

Who are Cambridge Analytica?

Cambridge Analytica has been thrown into turmoil after finding itself in the middle of Facebook data harvesting

The firm, which has offices in London, New York and Washington, boasts to clients that it can 'find your voters and move them to action'.

What are their ties to Aleksandr Kogan? 

The controversy centres around their use of the GSR app, developed by the Cambridge University research Dr Aleksandr Kogan.

Facebook users used the app to answer a personality survey which plundered the data of 100million users.

How was Cambridge Analytica  used in the Brexit and Trump campaigns?

It has been claimed that Cambridge Analytica used the information to assess peoples' personalities and come up with political strategies to sway voters to back Brexit and Donald Trump.

The firm has insisted it did no actual work for the Brexit campaign - although it did pitch for work with Leave.EU.

But whistleblowers say that Arron Banks - the co founder of Leave.EU - used the ideas gleaned from the itch to pursue his own CA-style model to predict and influence voters' behaviour in the EU referendum.

Mr Banks denied the allegations 

Cambridge Analytica suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims.

Why was Vote Leave embroiled in the scandal?

It is also claimed that campaign chiefs at Vote Leave - the official pro Brexit campaign group - may have broken the law in the campaign.

It is claimed that they donated £650,000 to the other pro Brexit group BeLeave in the final days of the campaign and told them to spend it on data advertising by the Canadian firm Aggregate IQ - breaking election rules. 

Whistleblowers have claimed that Cambridge Analytica has undisclosed links to the Canadian digital firm AggregateIQ  

He said Facebook staff were allowed to hand over the data by company bosses to 'keep them stimulated' and entertained.

Far from being a 'rogue operator' he was working with the social media giant for years before the controversy, MPs heard.

Mr Kogan built an app in 2014 which harvested the personal information of 100 million Facebook users and is accused of handing it to Cambridge Analytica which used it to sway how people voted in the US election and Brexit vote.

Mr Kogan made the claims as he gave evidence to the culture select committee's inquiry into fake news today. 

He said: 'Throughout 2013, Facebook provided me with several macro level data sets on friendship and Facebook usage

He added: 'We were collaborating with a team at Facebook...the data set we received was about every friendship made in the world with every country and it was broke n down by months...

'Later on they provided me data about emotional expression - emojis. This was also in the aggregate although broken down by gender and age group.'

Committee chairman, Tory MP Mr Collins, said: 'People sought to portray you as a rogue operator but you were using face book  data given to you by Facebook.

'I think that's surprising given the evidence given to the committee by Facebook surprising.' 

Mr Kogan said: 'We were going to hold on to the data indefinitely...when 2015 comes along they asked me to delete everything including this academic data set which I did.'

Mr Collins replied: 'So there was no requirement from Facebook when they  gave you that data in the first place that you should destroy it or give it back?'

Mr Kogan said: 'No and in fact there was no signed agreement initially - they gave me a data set without any signed a agreement hey just said here is a data set.'

He added: 'Some time later maybe a year later there was an agreement  but I think  that was in the wake - there was a scandal about Facebook trying to make people sad publication in Fall (autumn) 2013.'

Asked why Facebook handed him this data without safeguards he said: 'I think it makes their employees happy. 

'My perception was that management tolerated it it wasn't a focus because it took time away from making Facebook a better platform but they allowed them to do it to stimulate them.'

Mr Collins replied: 'So they are saying to their employees you can take macro level  Facebook  data  and give it to academics without any kind of licence and let them play with it and just see what happens.'

Mr Kogan replied: 'Yes sir, as simple as that. The company is very open.'

In a lengthy evidence session he also accused Cambridge Analytica boss Alexander Nix of 'absolutely' lying to the committee of MPs in his evidence.

Timeline: How the Facebook data crisis has unfolded

March 18 - Facebook suspends Donald Trump’s data operations team for misusing people’s personal information as Cambridge Analytica story breaks.  

CA's use of Facebook data branded a ‘grossly unethical experiment’ by social media giant who said their policies had been breached;

March 19 - US markets open and Facebook shares plunge over its handling of personal data.

Facebook also hires its own forensics team to investigate Cambridge Analytica and they start searching CA's offices in London.

But CA refuse to allow Britain's Information Commissioner's team in and force her to go to court for a warrant.  

March 20 - Facebook l hold an emergency meeting to let employees ask questions about Cambridge Analytica as their share prices plunges.

But Mark Zuckerberg fails to show up and is yet to speak about the crisis that has seen billions wiped off the value of his company.

The billionaire is also asked to appear before Parliament to answer allegations his company has lied about how it handles data. 

March 21 - Architect of app that helped harvest data for Cambridge Analytica says tens of thousands of other apps might be doing the same job.

 

Layla Moran, Lib Dem MP and member of the anti Brexit group Best for Britain, said the revelation highlights the need for far tougher regulation.

She said: 'This all looks dodgy as hell. 

'The man at the centre of the Facebook breach row is now saying that they gave him user information first - without any requirement for him to destroy it afterwards. 

'These large corporations need better oversight. The evidence for action is clear. 

'Companies like Facebook feel more powerful to the man in the street than the government and this needs to change. 

'But more than that, these revelations are yet more evidence of foul play during the referendum.' 

Mr Kogan had told the committee that the GSR app he built gave data to SCL - the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, which was used in political campaigns.

Mr Collins said: 'Nix said he did not get any data from GSR. He said no. Is that true?'

Mr Kogan replied that that's 'a fabrication'.

Mr Kogan built a personality test which harvested data which was then handed over to SCL, he said. 

In his statement he said: 'One of the biggest points of confusion has been how accurate the personality scores we provided to SCL were. 

'The truth is that the scores were highly inaccurate.' 

But he admitted  he failed in drawing up the user terms and conditions for his app, wand failed to make it clear the information might be used for political purposes. 

Asked directly what the value of the work he did for SCL was, he said: 'Absolutely nothing.' 

But he also attacked Christoper Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who claims that the firm may have broken the law in Brexit referendum as well as harvesting data from 100million Facebook users.

Christoper Wylie (pictured giving evidence to MPs last month) , the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, says  the firm may have broken the law in Brexit referendum as well as harvesting data from 100million Facebook users
Christoper Wylie (pictured giving evidence to MPs last month) , the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, says  the firm may have broken the law in Brexit referendum as well as harvesting data from 100million Facebook users

Christoper Wylie (pictured giving evidence to MPs last month) , the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, says  the firm may have broken the law in Brexit referendum as well as harvesting data from 100million Facebook users

Mr Kogan said that by March 2015 he had begun to suspect that Mr Wylie 'might not be the most reputable person in the world'. 

And he also revealed that Facebook has him under a gagging order - known as a non disclosure agreement - which limits his ability to talk freely about the firm and the scandal.

The Facebook data harvesting scandal has thrown the company into crisis after it emerged that people in Europe and the US had their data plundered and sold to firms to try to sway how they voted in political elections.

Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for the scandal and vowed to get on top of it and improve privacy.

But many users have deleted their profiles in protest at the revelations. 

Mail Online has contacted Facebook for comment. 

Advertisement

Tagged as:

No tags for this article

RELATED CATEGORYMore

368 Views Comments

UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting over N Korea

The meeting aims to discuss a course of action in response to North Korea's actions The United Nations Security Council is to hold an emergency meeting

1931 Views Comments

President Trump to Sign Executive Order Declaring Pre-marital S*x, Abortion, Same S*x Marriage as Illegal

U.S President Donald Trump, is reportedly planning to sign an executive order declaring pre-marital s*x, same-s*x marriage and abortion to be wrong and make government

4627 Views Comments

BREAKING NEWS: French High-Speed Train Leaves 5 Dead After It Derails And Catches Fire Near Strasbourg

Five people have been killed as a train derailed and caught fire in Eckwersheim near Strasbourg in France. Rescue teams are working at the site. A

MOST WATCHED VIDEOSMore

0 Views Comments

EID AL FITIR 2018 SPECIAL ON EBS ልዩ ረመዳን እና የኢድ አል ፈጥር በዓል በኢቢኤስ

EID AL FITIR 2018 SPECIAL ON EBS ልዩ ረመዳን እና የኢድ አል ፈጥር በዓል በኢቢኤስ

0 Views Comments

EID AL FITIR SPECIAL PROGRAM ON EBS TV የኢድ አል ፈጢር ልዩ የበዓል ዝግጅት በኢቢኤስ

EID AL FITIR SPECIAL PROGRAM ON EBS TV የኢድ አል ፈጢር ልዩ የበዓል ዝግጅት በኢቢኤስ

0 Views Comments

Enchewawot: EID AL FITIR SPECIAL PROGRAM ON EBS/ልዩ የኢድ አል ፈጢር በዓል አከባበር ከእንጨዋት ጋር

Enchewawot: EID AL FITIR SPECIAL PROGRAM ON EBS/ልዩ የኢድ አል ፈጢር በዓል አከባበር ከእንጨዋት ጋር