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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