I Made the Psychological Warfare Tool for Cambridge Analytica

March 18, 2018 The Guardian article by Carole Cadwalladr; Original article here.
Part of The Guardian series: The Cambridge Analytica Files

Go right now. Watch the video of Christopher Wylie here; then read the article there or continue here.

In the history of bad ideas, this turned out to be one of the worst. The job was research director across the SCL group, a private contractor that has both defense and elections operations. Its defense arm was a contractor to the UK’s Ministry of Defense and the US’s Department of Defense, among others. Its expertise was in “psychological operations” – or psyops – changing people’s minds not through persuasion but through “informational dominance”, a set of techniques that includes rumor, disinformation and fake news.

Start of article . . .

Christopher Wylie:

If you do not respect the agency of people, anything you do after that point is not conducive to democracy.

Paul-Olivier Dehaye:

it’s become increasingly apparent that Facebook is “abusive by design”. If there is evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it will be in the platform’s data flows. Facebook has denied and denied and denied this. It has misled MPs and congressional investigators and it’s failed in its duties to respect the law. It has a legal obligation to inform regulators and individuals about this data breach, and it hasn’t. It’s failed time and time again to be open and transparent.”

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Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Face Class Action Lawsuit

The Guardian article by Owen Bowcott and Alex Hern April 10, 2018;Original article here.

British and US lawyers have launched a joint class action against Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and two other companies for allegedly misusing the personal data of more than 71 million people.The lawsuit claims the firms obtained users’ private information from the social media network to develop “political propaganda campaigns” in the UK and the US.

Facebook, it is said, may initially have been misled, but failed to act responsibly to protect the data of 1 million British users and 70.6 million people in America. The data, it is suggested, was first used in the British EU referendum and then in the US during the 2016 presidential election.

As well as Cambridge Analytica, the two firms named in the legal writ are SCL Group Limited and Global Science Research Limited (GSR). Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former campaign and White House adviser, led Cambridge Analytica in 2014, when the data was collected and extracted, the legal papers state. The Cambridge University neuroscientist Aleksandr Kogan, a founding director of GSR, is also named.

Cambridge Analytica was set up in 2013 as an offshoot of SCL Group, which offered similar services to businesses and political parties. All the companies and Kogan have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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New Mexico Keeps Smart Meters Out

On 4/11/18, Arthur Firsrenberg from Cellular Phone Taskforce wrote:

Dear Friends,

Today we won a victory in the fight against radiation in New Mexico. The Public Regulation Commission has denied PNM’s application for Smart Meters. "The plan presented in the Application does not provide a net public benefit and it does not promote the public interest," wrote the Commission.

The Commission accepted the Hearing Examiner’s recommended decision without alteration. It ruled that:

  • PNM did not demonstrate that smart meters will save money.
  • PNM did not demonstrate that smart meters will produce energy efficiency.
  • PNM did not show that customers want smart meters.
  • PNM did not evaluate alternatives.
  • PNM did not say how it would protect customer data privacy.
  • Cybersecurity issues need to be addressed.
  • 125 good, high-paying jobs would be lost.
  • Proposed opt-out fees were unreasonable.
  • There was insufficient public input.
  • There was insufficient response by PNM to public objections.

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Cambridge Analytica CEO Steps Down

4/11/18 — by Brian Heater, Tech Crunch; Original article here.

While Mark Zuckerberg gets the grilling of a lifetime on Capitol Hill, the firm at the center of all of this is losing its top executive. As day two of the Facebook testimony was unfolding, Cambridge Analytica sent out a brief statement from its Board of Directors, noting that acting CEO Alexander Tayler was stepping down from the gig.

The two sentence press release thanked Tayler, “for his service in what has been a challenging time for the company.”

Well, yeah. Tayler will be sticking with Cambridge Analytica, however, returning to his former role as Chief Data Officer.

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Facebook, Social Media Privacy and Abuse of Data

Zuckerberg is taken out to the woodshed in Washington, DC by the House and Senate . . . the House Representatives were much better prepared than the Senators were the day before. View/read Rep. Frank Pallone’s opening statement.

4/11/18 House Energy & Commerce Committee Hearing

Facebook: Transparency and Abuse of Consumer Data

Mark Zuckerberg testified before Energy and Commerce on 4/11/18 at 10 am ET regarding Facebook’s abuse and lack of protection of users’ personal information. Click here for the details on the hearing, including livestream, witness testimony, and background memo.

  1. 2018-0411-Zuckerberg House Testimony
  2. 2018-0411-Background-Memo

4/10/18 Joint Senate Committee Hearing

2018-0410-Zuckerberg Senate Testimony

  • Senate Committee on the Judiciary,
  • Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Date: Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Time: 02:15 PM
Location: Hart Senate Office Building 216
Live Webcast: https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/facebook-social-media-privacy-and-the-use-and-abuse-of-data

The Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled: “Facebook, Social Media Privacy, and the Use and Abuse of Data” scheduled for Tuesday, April 10 at 2:15 p.m., will now be in Room 216 of the Hart Senate Office Building.

Why I Broke the Facebook Data Scam Story

April 7, 2018 The Guardian article by Christopher Wylie. Original article here.

In January, I told the British authorities that the app that was used to harvest data for Cambridge Analytica was likely to have pulled the profiles of British Facebook users. Last week Facebook confirmed it: it told the world that as many as 87 million profiles were collected. This included more than one million British records.

A couple of days later, early on Saturday, Facebook suspended AggregateIQ. This is important because AIQ was the Canadian data firm on which Vote Leave spent 40% of its budget during the EU referendum. But as I told parliament, I helped set up AIQ to support Cambridge Analytica. I also handed over documents showing AIQ’s ties to Cambridge Analytica.

At every step of this story, Facebook – from which I’m still banned – has lagged behind the truth. It was only when I came forward with documents – signed contracts and invoices – that proved Cambridge Analytica had funded the harvesting of Facebook profiles that it was finally forced to own up.

But then, there are certain facts that are hard to hear. And in the case of AIQ, Facebook might be slow, but it’s still managed to be ahead of many in Britain. Ten days ago I spent four hours testifying to the Fake News inquiry at parliament – and several more hours in private sessions.

Facebook has suspended AIQ while it investigates AIQ’s relationship with Cambridge Analytica and whether it had access to Facebook data. In Britain, on the other hand, Dominic Cummings, the former head of Vote Leave, called me a “fantasist charlatan”. Andrew Neil inferred that my testimony was “hearsay”. And while the national broadcaster in my home country, Canada, has covered the subject assiduously, on the day I appeared on BBC’s Today programme, it devoted more airtime to alleged ball tampering in Australian cricket than tampering with British democracy. I’m disappointed, but I also understand it.

It is extremely uncomfortable to consider that our democracy may have been corrupted. That potential crimes may have taken place – some of them on Facebook’s servers – that seem to be beyond the reach of law. It’s why I testified last week to parliament. It’s why I have given three binders of evidence about Vote Leave to the UK Electoral Commission and information commissioner’s office.

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Finally! Big Media Takes On Big Wireless

  • 4/4/18 Democracy Now, Part 1 Interview of Mark Hertsgaard, investigative editor for The Nation — How the Wireless Industry Convinced the Public Cellphones Are Safe & Cherry-Picked Research on Risks (transcript below)

  • 4/4/18 Democracy Now, Part 2 Interview of Mark Hertsgaard, investigative editor for The Nation — How Big Wireless War-Gamed the Science on Risks, While Making Customers Addicted to Their Phones (transcript below)

  • 4/5/18 NPR interview on WBUR’s On Point in Boston: The Connection Between Cellphones And Cancer with Mark Hertsgaard, investigative editor for The Nation and co-author of the magazine’s April 28 cover story, How Big Wireless Made Us Think That Cell Phones Are Safe: A Special Investigation and Jerry Phillips, biochemist and director of the Excel Science Center at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs. (embedded audio file, below)

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San Francisco Is Quietly Building an Open Access Fiber Network

By Karl Bode Apr 06 2018; Original article here.

With Google Fiber pausing deployments to consider a pivot to wireless, San Francisco is one of several cities left standing at the altar. The city had been part of an effort by Google Fiber to deploy service to a few key locations where fiber was already deployed. But with Google Fiber apparently now fascinated with next generation wireless technologies like millimeter wave, the city is considering one of the biggest municipal broadband deployments ever conceived.

Like Seattle, San Francisco is tired of broadband being defined as being forced to choose between two companies whose service pricing and quality clearly reflect a disdain for paying customers.

As such, the company is promising to connect every single home and business in the city to fiber optic broadband. A consultant’s report (pdf) recently released by the city indicates that the cost of doing so would be somewhere around $1.9 billion. But the cost of that investment would result in numerous, direct benefits to the city, the report concluded.

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Verizon to Roll Out So-Called Small Cells to Densify Napa Cellphone Towers

Comments from Scientists for Wired Technology (‘S4WT’)

by Howard Yune | hyune@napanews.com |
Apr 2, 2018; Updated Apr 4, 2018 ; Original article here.

This year, two dozen utility poles around Napa may gain something extra on top. Compact cellular transmitters are slated for installation atop poles in various neighborhoods, in the debut of an effort by Verizon Wireless to improve call capacity and Internet speeds for users of mobile phones and tablet computers.


S4WT Comment: coming.


The so-called “small cells” – a fraction the size and range of conventional wireless towers – will be added as attachments to existing power poles, or included in replacement poles up to 52 feet high, taller than normal to improve signal range.

Installation is expected to take place within the next two months and continue during 2018, according to Rommel Angeles, a network implementation manager for Verizon in Northern California. Spokespeople for the carrier said they have received permits from Napa to install 24 of the devices across the city, at locations including Franklin, Coombs, Jefferson and Greenbach streets as well as Old Sonoma and Browns Valley roads and Cabot Way.

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Cambridge Analytica Facebook Targeting Model

March 30, 2018 by Matthew Hindman, Associate Professor of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University; Original article here. Matthew Hindman does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

The whole point of a dimension reduction model is to mathematically represent the data in simpler form. It’s as if Cambridge Analytica took a very high-resolution photograph, resized it to be smaller, and then deleted the original. The photo still exists – and as long as Cambridge Analytica’s models exist, the data effectively does too.

How The Model Really Worked

In an email to me, Cambridge University scholar Aleksandr Kogan explained how his statistical model processed Facebook data for Cambridge Analytica. The researcher whose work is at the center of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data analysis and political advertising uproar has revealed that his method worked much like the one Netflix uses to recommend movies.

The accuracy, he claims, suggests it works about as well as established voter-targeting methods based on demographics like race, age and gender. Kogan’s account would mean that the digital modeling Cambridge Analytica used was hardly the virtual crystal ball that a few have claimed. Yet the numbers Kogan provides also show what is – and isn’t – actually possible by combining personal data with machine learning for political ends.

Aleksandr Kogan answers questions on CNN.

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