2014, Aleksandr Kogan, Aleksandr Spectre, Alex Nix, Baltic States, Bannon, CA, Cambridge Analytica, Cambridge Spy Ring, Cambridge University, Cold War, data, data safety, Democratic Party, eastern Europe, England, Facebook, Facebook data harvesting, James Bond, Kremlin, Latvia, Lithuania, London, Lukoil, Mercers, Messages, Moscow, Poland, propaganda, Putin, Russia, Russian Spook, SCL, SPECTRE, Spook, St. Petersburg University, Steve Bannon, Trump, Trump campaign, Turkey, UK, Ukraine, voter suppression, voter turnout, whistleblower, Wylie
WRITTEN STATEMENT TO THE UNITED STATES SENATE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY IN THE MATTER OF CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA AND OTHER RELATED ISSUES Christopher Wylie 16 May 2018 (Excerpts, followed by entire text).
“SCL Group was a UK based military contractor, which worked for the US and UK militaries and also worked at the NATO StratComm Centre in the Baltic region…. Mr Bannon is a follower of the Breitbart Doctrine, which posits that politics flows downstream from culture. Therefore, Mr Bannon sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics. It was for this reason Mr Bannon engaged SCL, a foreign military contractor, to build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population. Mr Bannon wanted to use the same kinds of information operations tactics used by the military for his political aims in the United States and elsewhere…. The Russian-American researcher Dr Aleksandr Kogan was selected to lead the data harvesting operation, as he offered the use of Facebook apps which he had developed in his academic role to collect personal data about Facebook users and their friends…. At the time, Dr Kogan was also working on Russian state-funded research projects. He was based at times in St Petersburg and also would fly to Moscow. The Russian team at St Petersburg was also building similar algorithms using Facebook data for psychological profiling. The Russian project had a particular focus on the “dark triad” traits of narcissism, Machiavellianism and psychopathy. The Russian project also conducted behavioural research on online trolling.
31. It should be noted that CA was very much aware of this work going on in Russia and in fact sought to pitch “the interesting work Alex Kogan has been doing for the Russians” to its other clients.
32. Contemporaneous to Dr Kogan’s data profiling work in Russia, CA was also in close contact with senior executives at Lukoil, one of Russia’s largest oil companies. After receiving a request for information from Lukoil executives in the spring of 2014, CA discussed with Lukoil its experience with foreign disinformation, rumour campaigns, microtargeting and its American data assets. Mr Nix also emailed me to say that he was passing on a white paper I wrote outlining the US project to the CEO of Lukoil.
33. It should be noted that Lukoil has formal information sharing agreements with the Russian Federal Security Service (“FSB”) and is known to conduct intelligence gathering on behalf of the FSB.
34. It should also be noted that CA’s parent company, SCL Group, has managed information operations projects in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region and may have been an intelligence target at the time.
35. This means that in addition to Facebook data being accessed in Russia, there are reasonable grounds to suspect that (1) CA may have been an intelligence target of Russian security services at the time of Project Ripon, (2) that Russian security services may have been notified of the existence of CA’s Facebook data and/or methods through CA’s frequent contact with Russian companies, and (3) that it was made known that certain data assets could have been accessed inside Russia or via accessing Dr Kogan’s work and computers using something as simple as a keylogger device (with or without his knowledge or consent).
36. Other CA contractors have worked on pro-Russian political operations in Eastern Europe, including work in Ukraine with suspected Russian intelligence agents. This may have influenced some of CA’s research in the USA. During its research projects in 2014, CA also set up focus groups, message testing and polling on Americans’ views on the leadership of Vladimir Putin and Russian expansionism in Eastern Europe. Of note, Vladimir Putin was the only foreign leader tested by CA.
37. In short, Cambridge Analytica (1) used Russian researchers to gather its data, (2) openly shared information on “rumour campaigns” and “attitudinal inoculation” with FSB-linked Russian companies and executives, (3) pitched Russian-led profiling projects to its other clients, (4) contracted people who worked for pro-Russian parties in Eastern Europe with suspected Russian intelligence operatives, (5) referenced the use of former Russian intelligence agents in internal documents, and (6) went as far as to test Americans’ views on Vladimir Putin’s leadership.
38. CA’s behaviour is more disconcerting given that its parent company SCL had extensive experience working in counter-extremism and military projects for the British and American governments. It should have known better.
39. To be clear, no allegation is being made that any CA personnel, including Mr Nix or Dr Kogan, knowingly colluded with the FSB, GRU or other Russian agencies. However, what is clear is the gross risk of data breaches and foreign intelligence gathering created by CA’s recklessness in the face of skilled intelligence and cyber operations….
…. the firm would target African American voters and discourage them from participating in elections….” https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/05-16-18%20Wylie%20Testimony.pdf
Update: Kogan filed suit against Facebook for defamation:
“Academic linked to Cambridge Analytica data mining sues Facebook for defamation: Aleksandr Kogan mined the social network for Cambridge Analytica…“, NBC News, March 16, 2019: https://archive.vn/WlS7S
MEANWHILE, THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AND REPUBLICAN CONGRESS ARE BUSILY DOING AWAY WITH ENVIRONMENTAL, TRANSPORTATION AND OTHER SAFEGUARDS.