Cambridge Analytica, and a lot more...

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Cambridge Analytica, and a lot more...

Postby blehblah » Sun Mar 25, 2018 4:35 pm

This whole gong show first came to my attention when I read this article last week:

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/m ... s-election

Working with two whistleblowers who helped set up Cambridge Analytica, the Observer and Guardian have spent a year analysing documents, gathering eyewitness reports and working with whistleblowers to untangle a highly complex story of elections in the digital age. In this series we expose:

1) How data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica used people’s Facebook data for political campaigning.
Read more from this series
2) How Cambridge Analytica is connected to AggregateIQ — the digital agency used by the Vote Leave official campaign for Brexit.
3) Questions arising around how the Vote Leave campaign operated in the run up to the referendum.

Cambridge Analytica is currently being investigated on both sides of the Atlantic. It is a key subject in two inquiries in the UK — by the Electoral Commission, into the firm's possible role in the EU referendum and the Information Commissioner's Office, into data analytics for political purposes — and one in the US, as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Trump-Russia collusion.


It's pretty fascinating. The Guardian has run many articles in the last while. You can find them here:

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/cambridge-analytica

There are many, many angles and implications. Even net neutrality is in the mix https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfr ... e-has-come

In the US, removing regulations from ISPs was described as 'creating an equal playing field' between regulated ISPs and unregulated services such as Facebook. Rather than pondering if it would be a swell idea to level the playing field to the benefit of end-users by exploring regulations for the likes of Google and Facebook, the US - led by Ajit Pai of the FCC - decided that deregulation of the ISPs is super-duper.

In a world where the astoundingly massive Equifax data-breach exposed the vast amount of data they collect on everyone, yet lasts in the news for maybe a couple of weeks, it will be interesting to see how much staying power the various threads of this story will have. I suspect it will continue to gain attention since Facebook, and the data they collect, is more apparent than what data brokers like Equifax collect. Also, last I checked, Equifax data wasn't used to try to manipulate elections, so, erm, yay Equifax?

Here is Bruce Schneier nailing it on Equifax: https://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/ ... equif.html

Of course, Cambridge Analytica didn't stop at data mining.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/201 ... -elections

There are also ties to Russia, because of course there are.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/m ... university

Aleksandr Kogan, the Cambridge University academic who orchestrated the harvesting of Facebook data, had previously unreported ties to a Russian university, including a teaching position and grants for research into the social media network, the Observer has discovered. Cambridge Analytica, the data firm he worked with – which funded the project to turn tens of millions of Facebook profiles into a unique political weapon – also attracted interest from a key Russian firm with links to the Kremlin.

Energy firm Lukoil, which is now on the US sanctions list and has been used as a vehicle of government influence, saw a presentation on the firm’s work in 2014. It began with a focus on voter suppression in Nigeria, and Cambridge Analytica also discussed “micro-targeting” individuals on social media during elections.


This will all take quite some time to unpack. It hits elections in Africa, Brexit, and of course, the 2016 US presidential election. You've got the billionaire Mercer funding things, Facebook taking a lot of heat, and all sorts of shenanigans.

Hell, Alexandr Cogan, noted the Guardian, even did this:

Dr Kogan – who later changed his name to Dr Spectre, but has subsequently changed it back to Dr Kogan


C'mon, Alex... like, really, man? Good gracious.

Anyhow, enjoy!
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Re: Cambridge Analytica, and a lot more...

Postby blehblah » Thu Apr 05, 2018 1:59 pm

https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-ex ... analytica/

FACEBOOK NOW SAYS the data firm Cambridge Analytica gained unauthorized access to up to 87 million users' data, mainly in the United States. This figure is far higher than the 50 million users that were previously reported.

[...]

"In total, we believe the Facebook information of up to 87 million people—mostly in the US—may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica," Schroepfer wrote toward the bottom of the post. Schroepfer noted that beginning April 9, Facebook will make it possible for users to see if their data was exposed to Cambridge Analytica. Unlike the well-hidden tool Facebook created to tell users whether they'd interacted with Russian trolls in the past, the new Cambridge Analytica disclosure will appear at the top of users' News Feeds.


Eh, once you hit fifty million, who's counting? Certainly not Cambridge Analytica.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/04/cambrid ... acted.html

The British political consulting firm at the center of Facebook's data scandal announced on Wednesday the data leak only affected 30 million users — a lower threshold than the "up to 87 million" claimed by Facebook.

"Cambridge Analytica licensed data for no more than 30 million people from GSR [Global Science Research], as is clearly stated in our contract with the research company. We did not receive more data than this," Cambridge Analytica wrote in an email.

Both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have blamed GSR, the company that harvested Facebook data using a personality app, for duping them. But Facebook estimated the maximum impact of the data misuse could be much higher.

Just hours prior, Facebook said up to 87 million users might be affected — higher than estimates of 50 million previously reported by The New York Times and other outlets.


Clearly stated in the contract? So, erm - thirty million is A-OK, everybody!

To be fair, the Facebook estimate seems to be of exposure - the looked at how many folks downloaded the scrap-happy app, and how many friends each account had.

Meanwhile, Cambridge Analytica may have used the same tactics to help get Duterte elected in the Philippines:

https://news.vice.com/en_us/article/xw7 ... ngman-2016

Facebook’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer Wednesday revealed more than 1.1 million Facebook users in the Philippines had their data harvested by an app developed in conjunction with Cambridge Analytica.


Here is an interesting article which speculates about the how Cambridge Analytica may have been a bridge, or sorts, between the Trump campaign and Russian efforts:

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... pher-wylie

So far there’s been a lot of speculation about the potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia, and most of the stories have orbited around the financial dealings of the Trump family and people like Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager. But this story is specifically about how team Trump, with the help of this data company, might have facilitated Russia’s meddling in the US presidential election.


Kushner, Bannon, and Flynn all feature.
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Re: Cambridge Analytica, and a lot more...

Postby blehblah » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:58 pm

Facebook was handed the maximum possible fine for the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/face ... -1.4741987

Britain's information regulator slapped Facebook with a small but symbolic fine for breaches of data protection law after millions of users' data were improperly accessed by consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

The 500,000-pound ($871,470 Cdn) fine is less that 10 minutes worth of revenue for the social media firm worth $590 billion, but is the maximum amount allowed and emphasizes how regulators are finding fault in Facebook's business practices.


Take that! See, folks - our data is precious. We can even put an actual price on it. That price is a little over 0.00574 pounds for each person's data.

The fine is the maximum allowed under Britain's old data protection law, although that was replaced by the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May, where companies can be fined up to four per cent of revenue for breaches.


That would have got Zuck's attention. It wouldn't exactly sink Facebook, but it would hurt. I wonder, though, if that's per-breach, or if a completely amoral company could earmark a 4% cut of their revenue as a cost of doing business, and be total shits with end-user data. Not that it would ever officially happen, because all organizations which have reams of data on each and everyone one of us, and make all of their money by selling data about us in one way or another, are as benevolent as benevolent can be.

EDIT:

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-44807093

Former staff from scandal-hit Cambridge Analytica (CA) have set up another data analysis company.

Auspex International will be "ethically based" and offer "boutique geopolitical consultancy" services, according to its website.

CA was shut down by its parent company, SCL Elections, which itself faces criminal charges over failure to supply data when requested.

Auspex will work in the Middle East and Africa initially.

The company was set up by Ahmed Al-Khatib, a former director of Emerdata, which was also created in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal to continue the work it was doing.

[...]

And Auspex will be involved in health campaigning and "tackle the spread of extremist ideology, which has poisoned my generation, preying on the minds of disenfranchised youth".

"Of course with the experience of CA, we are acutely aware of the issues surrounding the use of data and have taken all steps necessary to be fully compliant from day one," the press release says.


Oh, yes - their cup of benevolence runneth over.
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