Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies: The film executive hired

Gathered together in one place, for easy access, an agglomeration of writings and images relevant to the Rapeutation phenomenon.

Re: Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies: The film executive hir

Postby admin » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:16 am

Part 3 of 3

Q764 Chair: If someone came along and said, “I want to run a campaign that is going to be particularly relevant to people that I think are voting Republican but have very strong religious beliefs”, would you say, “We can create that campaign for you because we not only understand people’s political motivations but we also can identify people with strong religious beliefs because of the profiling we have done on them”?

Alexander Nix: I think that would depend very much on the data that we have access to or have already gathered. I would not be able to answer that question specifically, but hypothetically it would be possible if you had enough data, say on evangelical Christians in America, to have a look at that audience and see if there is a correlation between that and some political agenda.

Q765 Chair: These sorts of data are gathered that theoretically makes it possible.

Alexander Nix: It certainly is not gathered by us, but obviously there are very large church organisations and religious organisations that might have access to these types of data.

Q766 Chair: We have talked a lot about America and I appreciate the data laws in America are different and, in some ways, I guess that makes what you do easier in America than it does in the UK. What steps do you take as a company to make sure that you are always fully compliant with UK data protection laws?

Alexander Nix: Data is the core of our business and so we take data incredibly seriously. We have an in-house data compliance team who are working continually with the legislators not only to help understand the laws, but to help inform on data legislation and how it could be updated and kept forward. We anonymise and encrypt all data that we receive from clients, and we would like to believe that we are very much at the cutting edge of the technologies behind both of those services. We do not store data locally on devices in order to mitigate the possibility of data breaches and so forth. Internally, we have our policies on how we treat data and so forth. It is something that we have given a great deal of consideration to and something we take incredibly seriously.

Q767 Chair: When you say you are at the cutting edge of this industry and the way you use that data is part of being at the cutting edge of that, what sort of data processing do you do? You say you are receiving raw data but then you are organising it in some way to make it more relevant. Can you explain a bit more about how that process works? What would you consider to be an ethical use of that data being processed in such a way?

Alexander Nix: Certainly. We are not a data miner or a company like that. We are a data analytics company, so our job is to turn data into insight—to take very large datasets and try to identify patterns in that data and to use the data to make predictions about audiences. We are just trying to run algorithms on the data to try to find meaning in it.

Q768 Chair: Is it fair to say that there would be many people who have given their data to you who are not aware that their data is being used in this way and that they could be targeted in a way that they would never have expected, because they do not understand that that is how their data can be not only gathered but processed and then used to support other campaigns?

Alexander Nix: There are several answers to that. The first answer is that these are not particularly intrusive data. This is not like someone has given up their health data or their financial data or their private data. These data are commercially available, as I have said. These are data on your consumer and lifestyle habits: what car you drive, what magazines you read, whether you have Weetabix for breakfast and the like. I think most people understand that there is a reciprocity with large brands whereby they agree, for instance, to receive a loyalty card and get discounts and offers on products and services from that company. Most people understand that their data is being taken in return to help that brand to drive its marketing. Let’s say that large UK supermarkets—Tesco or Sainsbury’s—all have these types of things. People are not naive. They understand that reciprocity and they say, “If people find out whether I buy a loaf of bread and a pint of milk and I get 10% discount off, that is a fair trade-off”.

What is this going to look like in the future? I think that the landscape is changing, clearly with GDPR coming in. What we are seeing is that people are going to want to have more sovereignty over their data and are going to want to see a greater reciprocity of how their data is used and greater control. I think that is very healthy and something that we are investing very heavily in and look forward to. It is going to improve the data landscape, improve how data can be used where people say, “Okay, I recognise that my data has a value and why should other companies simply benefit from that? Why should I not be a participant in receiving some of that remuneration?”

Q769 Chair: Do you not see there is a big difference here between saying, “I understand that you like a particular brand of car and, therefore, I am going to send you information about other brands of car that are similar and you might be interested in because we know you like a certain type of car”—which I think people understand as it has been a marketing technique or a direct marketing technique for very many years—and saying, “Because of the information I have gathered about you, I know how to make you frightened”? Isn’t that a very different proposition?

Alexander Nix: These are only opinions we are looking at. You can go and speak to people yourselves and you can form an opinion based on those conversations about what might be the most relevant information to them. All we are doing is looking at data and making our own personal opinion about what we think is going to be important insights from that data.

Q770 Ian C. Lucas: Can you help me a little with these surveys that elicit information from the people who fill them in? I have filled in a couple of these surveys online over the years but to my knowledge I have never filled in a Cambridge Analytica survey. When you are eliciting information, what does it look like on a platform? What does it look like on a Facebook platform?

Alexander Nix: It might start with basic demographic information: your name, your age, your gender.

Q771 Ian C. Lucas: Does it say who is asking?

Alexander Nix: That will obviously depend—I am sure you have seen an opinion survey in your life. They are all fairly similar. They follow a fairly standard structure, which is generally establishing who you are speaking to and then asks you some questions.

Q772 Ian C. Lucas: Does it say it is from Cambridge Analytica? Would you ever present a survey on Facebook as saying, “This is a Cambridge Analytica survey. Please give us this information”?

Alexander Nix: We have done and we do, but it depends what the purpose of the survey is.

Ian C. Lucas: I have never had one.

Alexander Nix: I think we rolled out 350,000 to 400,000 surveys a month for the Trump campaign in the United States over a five-month period. These were being done on and behalf of the Trump campaign and that was the label of the survey. The fact that we were helping them to gather these data was less relevant.

Q773 Ian C. Lucas: I think it is important that people know who is asking. You have just said that was for the Trump campaign, and I think that is entirely legitimate and fair, but when individuals fill in a survey, do you think they should be told who is the client, who is the person asking them and where the data is going?

Alexander Nix: I can see no reason to obfuscate that truth. These are entirely voluntary surveys. If someone knocks at your door and says, “Could you fill out a survey?” you don’t have to undertake that. They might say, “Who is this for?” and you say it is for cancer research.

Q774 Ian C. Lucas: I am not sure that people understand what their data is being used for.

Alexander Nix: I think I would disagree with that. Most people understand that data is being gathered. You are not filling in a survey simply for your own entertainment. I think they do understand that the companies that are collecting this data must be using it for something.

Q775 Ian C. Lucas: When you obtain that data for a particular client, do you retain that data as Cambridge Analytica and then use that as a resource for other clients? Is that what you do?

Alexander Nix: As I have already mentioned to your colleague, that depends entirely on the relationship that we have with the client and also the territory that we are operating in and what the legislation is. It is case by case.

Q776 Ian C. Lucas: Let’s talk about the UK. If you collect data for an individual client as Cambridge Analytica, do you use that data for another client?

Alexander Nix: The client data that we collect for clients in the UK belongs to the clients, who are ultimately the data controllers. We are just processing or, in this case, collecting, which is part of the processing function for these clients.

Q777 Ian C. Lucas: In those circumstances, you never collect data yourselves as Cambridge Analytica? You only collect it for clients?

Alexander Nix: In those circumstances, yes.

Q778 Ian C. Lucas: But you do collect data for yourselves sometimes?

Alexander Nix: For instance, Mr Collins filled out a survey on our website, or nearly filled it out. That would be data we are collecting for ourselves.

Q779 Ian C. Lucas: That is very clear, but within the UK you would need the consent of the individual who is supplying you with the information in order to transfer it to another client.

Alexander Nix: That is correct.

Q780 Ian C. Lucas: But that would not apply in the United States.

Alexander Nix: Again, it might apply. Some customers might say specifically, “Our data is our data. Do not share it” and that comes down to the discussion you have with them at the time you engage with those clients about how they want their data treated.

Q781 Chair: Mr Nix, the purpose of your surveys is to support psychological profiling of people, isn’t it?

Alexander Nix: The purpose of our psychological surveys is to do that but, as I just mentioned, we were undertaking up to 400,000 surveys a month for five months. These were not psychological surveys at all. These were just political surveys trying to understand what issues were most relevant to which audiences and to help us understand our resource allocation, our targeting, our messaging and so forth. They were nothing to do with that.

Q782 Chair: I appreciate the questions are being framed in that way, but the way the OCEAN process works is to analyse people’s answers to different sorts of questions and, from that, to develop a profile of the sort of person they are, the world view they have, what their motivations are, what makes them happy and what makes them sad.

Alexander Nix: The OCEAN methodology was simply one of many methodologies that came out of experimental psychology to help understand behaviours. Your Government have an—I am going to get this wrong—institute of behavioural science that they use to help understand how to increase people’s tax payments or to encourage people to reduce smoking and so forth. All they are doing is taking academic literature in order to understand audiences in order to increase compliance, often for very importance issues.

Q783 Chair: But if from your surveys you are saying that we know someone is frightened of crime and they have concerns about gun use and about whether Hillary Clinton is weak on crime, what you are doing is building up a psychological profile of someone and you are using that data to target them with a message. That is the purpose of these surveys.

Alexander Nix: If you can identify that an audience group is frightened of crime and that is really important to them, you can then share with these audiences your candidate’s policies on how they intend to tackle crime and how they intend to address a major fear of those constituents, and I think that is really healthy. These people have an identified problem—they are frightened of crime—and you are able to say to them, “Don’t be frightened of crime because look what our candidate is going to do. We have set out our policy. This is our position on crime,” and you make sure that that information gets to the people for whom it is a worry. That has to be good.

Q784 Chair: You could send a message saying, “You are right to be frightened of crime because the other candidate is weak on crime and if they win you and your family is in danger”. I think anyone would recognise that as a kind of psychological profiling. You have other layers on it as well, such as, “Are you frightened about immigration? Is immigration the cause of crime?” We saw a lot of messaging like that around the referendum campaign here as well. That is not just data analytics and people answers to individual questions; that is using that data to build up a psychological profile of individuals and then target them, isn’t it?

Alexander Nix: I can’t speak to the UK referendum but—

Chair: It applies to any election or any campaign, and it certainly applies to the American campaign.

Alexander Nix: I think I have made my position clear, which is that we are trying to make sure that we can use data to understand what people care about and we can seek to address those concerns. If those are fears, we can allay those fears by telling audiences how we are going to solve those problems and that has to be good.

Q785 Simon Hart: If you can identify a section of the audience that is expressing some concerns, perhaps about immigration or gun crime or whatever it is, are you arguing that what you do is help to allay those fears or is it the accusation that has been made that all you do is oxygenate those fears in order to suit the guy who is paying you the big fee? Which of those accusations is correct? You are making it sound like you are doing a public service.

Alexander Nix: We are doing a service to our client. Our job as a campaign consultancy is to make sure that we provide the best communication technologies and methodologies in order to allow our clients to get their messages across.

Q786 Simon Hart: I am sorry, I did not put it very clearly earlier on. Is that the same thing as when you identify an area where fear may be a factor? Are you saying that you do not contribute to exacerbating that fear, you do not then develop messages that make people perhaps more fearful than they previously were, rather than less fearful?

Alexander Nix: I think you need to look at campaigning over the last 100 years. Negative campaigning is a part of every campaign regardless of the technologies that are being embraced at any given time. The ability for one candidate to stand up and say, “You know what, under this particular candidate or political party the country is going to be worse off. You are going to have less money in your pocket, you are going to have more crime,” is just an integral part of the political process.

Q787 Simon Hart: That is true, but they are the candidates, they are the name on the ballot paper.

Alexander Nix: And their campaign teams are doing exactly the same and you well know that, as does everyone in this room. Extolling the virtues of your candidate and the weaknesses of your opposition is a fair practice in political campaigns globally.

Q788 Simon Hart: In countries that have similar electoral rules as this country, and they vary significantly, how do people account for your fee when they are making their declarations over election or referendum expenditure? Into what detail do they necessarily go? I accept that you may not be able to answer that.

Alexander Nix: If it is their responsibility to report on their fees in their own country, the onus is on them to do so.

Q789 Simon Hart: Are you ever asked to explain or to provide some kind of a brief description of what the service actually is or do you simply—

Alexander Nix: At its broadest level we are providing campaign consultancy and communication services, but if anyone wanted more specific details, we are more than happy. The contracts that we engage in are based on a statement of work that is mapped out with the client and these are well documented. It would be very easy for us to point to these agreements that detail exactly what areas we are working on.

Q790 Simon Hart: You mentioned that you have 4,000 or 5,000 data points on every adult in the United States—the entire voting population. Does every adult in the United States know that you have 4,000 or 5,000 data points on them?

Alexander Nix: I can’t speculate on what every adult in America knows. That would be absurd.

Q791 Simon Hart: It is very closely related to the earlier question about the extent to which people—you say you are not a data miner. How do you acquire that vast quantity of data without a certain amount of mining? Is it not a responsibility of yours to be able to ensure that the population is aware that vast quantities of their data, personal and otherwise, is held by you and used for electoral purposes?

Alexander Nix: We have made no secret of this fact, as you all know, because you have referenced at least two occasions that I have stood in a public forum and talked about the methodology that we use. That includes the data that we underpin it with. I think we have been pretty consistent.

Q792 Simon Hart: But you said you were not a data miner?

Alexander Nix: Well, we are not because there are companies out there whose singular purpose is to go out and collect and aggregate data, as Mr Collins said. With his background, he is very familiar with the experience in the Axioms and Infogroups and other very large companies who have hundreds, or indeed thousands, of employees whose singular job is to sit on the phone and speak to companies and acquire their data, match it together, hygiene it, put it into a database and record, such that they can then license these data to companies like ours. All we have done is gone to all the vendors, large, medium and small, and taken these data and put them into one database and record.

Q793 Simon Hart: That then excuses you from the accusation that you are a miner? The fact that you are just mining what other people have mined does not contradict in any sense what you said earlier on?

Alexander Nix: I don’t like the word “accusation” because that implies that we are doing something wrong. This is an established business in the United States, which is selling data, and we, like many or most brands and many or most agencies, are able to go out and license these data for marketing purposes.

Q794 Simon Hart: At no stage was I suggesting there was anything illegal about it. I was simply saying that you make a virtue out of the fact that you possess probably more data on the entire voting population of the United States, thereby making a political point, than anybody else in the market. My question was simply to the extent to which that is known about—I know we know about it, we are talking about it here—and the extent to which the individual voters know exactly how and would have access to that information should they require it. If they come to you, you would be able to disclose the 4,000 to 5,000 data points that you possess. If I was an American citizen, would you provide me with those 4,000 to 5,000 data points were I ask you for them?

Alexander Nix: Let me address your first question. We are incredibly proud of the fact that we walked into one of the most competitive political markets, if not the most competitive political market, in the world as a small British tech company and were able to develop the sort of technologies and methodologies and bring them to market so effectively. This is going to help the communications landscape way beyond politics. It is going to help in advertising and marketing and make it more relevant and much more economical. In terms of what you have asked about American people undertaking what we call in Europe a subject access request, the legislation is not currently in place in America for them to do that, but were it there, we would be able to provide exactly the same service that we provide for companies in the UK and across Europe. Following GDPR, we will be providing that for very many businesses to help them manage their own data as they seek to be compliant with the new legislation that is being implemented.

Q795 Chair: Mr Nix, when Leave.EU applied for designation to the Electoral Commission to be the official leave campaign, it named Cambridge Analytica in its designation document. Why was that?

Alexander Nix: I was not aware of that but I can only assume, as I mentioned before, that they felt that associating themselves and aligning themselves with Cambridge Analytica would give them extra credibility and leverage in trying to compete in a bidding process where they were clearly the underdogs to be the designated campaign.

Q796 Chair: Has the Electoral Commission raised this with you as part of its investigation?

Alexander Nix: No, it hasn’t.

Q797 Chair: That is slightly strange. It is doing an investigation looking at Leave.EU’s activities in the referendum. Your company is cited in their designation document as being someone they are working with and it has not asked you about that.

Alexander Nix: Again, let me circle back to you, but I have not been asked that question. I can certainly find out for you whether my data compliance team or colleagues have been asked it. I would like to think that this inquiry has been going on for some time and we are delighted to help because we really want to make it clear that we did no work, as I have been trying to do today in this Committee. I am hopeful that the Electoral Commission and the ICO have taken on board the evidence that we have presented to them and that they are going to arrive at the same conclusion as I hope you will, which is that we were not involved, therefore we can’t speak to these things.

Q798 Chair: That itself is a matter for the Electoral Commission. It is not something we are investigating but it is just another point of information that is out there in the public domain that links the two of you.

I have a few follow-up questions and then I think we will be done. If you were conducting 300,000 to 400,000 surveys a month for the Trump campaign over a five-month period, so let’s say nearly 2 million surveys, do you or your associates hold the data that was gathered from that exercise?

Alexander Nix: These data belong to the Trump campaign.

Q799 Chair: Okay, so you don’t have any ongoing access to that?

Alexander Nix: Again, I will circle back to you on those specific pieces of research, because I don’t know what the data-sharing agreement was with the campaign on that specific piece of research. Generally these would belong to the campaign, but if they have permissioned us to retain a copy of them, we would have a copy of them.

Q800 Chair: Thank you. Presumably with the Cruz campaign, you did have permission to have a copy of the data, because you said some of the data from the Cruz campaign could have been used in the Trump campaign.

Alexander Nix: That is correct.

Q801 Chair: From a layman’s point of view, how is this data held? The data must exist in a form that means it can be used for one campaign and then repurposed for another campaign. Do you have data storage centres where you keep this data or how does it work?

Alexander Nix: That is right. Some data is stored in secure facilities and some is stored in the cloud, depending on how we need to access it.

Q802 Christian Matheson: You took on Sophie Schmidt as an intern. Why did she want to come and work for you?

Alexander Nix: You are going to have to speak to Ms Schmidt about that. I can’t speculate.

Q803 Christian Matheson: When you were interviewing her, did you not say, “Why do you want to come and work for us?”

Alexander Nix: I would like to think that we were a company that she found interesting and exciting to work for.

Q804 Christian Matheson: When she went back to America, is it likely she then introduced you to some of the senior players or the better known players in the tech world, such as her father, who is the boss of Google, and Peter Thiel, who is obviously very well known in the area as well? Did she introduce you to Peter Thiel?

Alexander Nix: No, she did not introduce me to her father and she did not introduce me to Peter Thiel. That is not correct.

Q805 Christian Matheson: She has now gone to work for Uber. Have you shared any data from Google? Has Google given you any data?

Alexander Nix: As far as I am aware, Google, like Facebook, is a walled garden and does not share its data. It certainly has not shared any data with us.

Q806 Christian Matheson: That is you, as in Cambridge Analytica and SCL.

Alexander Nix: That is us in the broader sense of the word.

Q807 Christian Matheson: What about Uber? Have they provided you with any data?

Alexander Nix: We don’t work with Uber at the moment.

Q808 Christian Matheson: Did you previously?

Alexander Nix: No, we have never worked with Uber.

Q809 Christian Matheson: Okay, so there has not been any sharing of any data from Uber to any of your companies?

Alexander Nix: That is correct.

Q810 Christian Matheson: Thank you. Can I talk about the process here? You must deal with huge amounts of data, and the Chairman was asking about the way that you hold it and manage it. When you bring it all together, do you aggregate it yourself or do you use a company? Do you buy in aggregation services?

Alexander Nix: No, we do it ourselves. That is part of the service that we offer to our clients, and we do that both manually and have products that we have developed to automate some of that functionality.

Q811 Christian Matheson: Have you ever used a third party in the past to do that?

Alexander Nix: Never.

Q812 Christian Matheson: What is your relationship with Aggregate IQ?

Alexander Nix: We have no relationship with Aggregate IQ. We have historically used Aggregate IQ to develop some software for us. It was a standalone project that lasted about six months, possibly, in 2014. My understanding—I will have to check this—is that we have not had any communication with them since early 2015.

Q813 Christian Matheson: There was a licensing agreement in September 2014. Is that what that was?

Alexander Nix: That is right, yes. They built a small piece of software for us, as a software development company.

Q814 Christian Matheson: I have a diagram of the structure of the group, and it seems very complicated, with a bit of ownership here and a bit of ownership there and some shareholdings here and there. In section 10 of the latest accounts of SCL Elections Ltd there was a £24.2 million payment. Does this relate to the 19% of Cambridge Analytica in America LLC that is owned by SCL Elections or is it payment for work that would have been undertaken by SCL Elections?

Alexander Nix: You are going to have to help me understand the relevance of the question of ownership of a private company to this inquiry into fake news, data and communications.

Q815 Christian Matheson: Fake news obviously is the content that is being put out there, but it is also a question of the delivery method and how fake news is propagated. The structure of your companies is such that it is not quite clear not only who is owning them, but who is propelling that means of delivery. I am just quite curious.

Alexander Nix: We have never published a structure of our company, so I don’t know what you are looking at or where that has come from, but as a private company we don’t speak about our structure, our investors or our board members. If you would like more information on this, we might be able to take this out of the public forum in the interests of helping your Committee, but I don’t think that is something I want to share today.

Christian Matheson: Okay. I will leave it at then. Thank you.

Q816 Paul Farrelly: You said that you had worked across the world in political campaigns. Could you tell us a little bit more about where else in the world?

Alexander Nix: Again, in the interests of our clients, as a rule we do not speak about client contracts unless we have the specific permission of those clients, and that includes commercial, Government and political contracts. What I can say is that we undertake eight or nine elections every year, and we are not limited by geography, so this really could be from the Caribbean to Asia to Africa to Europe or everywhere. Some of these are very large, very important national elections and some are smaller, more local mayoral or state elections. It is really anywhere that you can think of.

Q817 Paul Farrelly: For the Ukraine?

Alexander Nix: Potentially.

Q818 Paul Farrelly: Have you?

Alexander Nix: Well, as I said, we do not talk specifically about clients but there are elections coming up in the Ukraine in the future. If there is a good commercial opportunity there, we might look at it. I would have to speak to my elections team.

Q819 Paul Farrelly: Would you work for anyone?

Alexander Nix: I think I have already addressed this. We only work for mainstream—

Paul Farrelly: One person’s despot might be one person’s hero, but generally there are certain people who are unsavoury.

Alexander Nix: We work for mainstream political parties. We try to work only in free and fair democracies, and we also have to be mindful of our other divisions. As I have already told this Committee, we do an awful lot of work for the British Government, the US Government and other allied Governments. If there is any question whatsoever about a client that we might take on in the political sphere, or even in the commercial sphere, we always discuss this with the relevant parties in the US and in the UK—so that would be the Foreign Office or the State Department—saying, “We have had an inquiry to work in this country. Do you have any objections to this?” It is in the interest of us to make sure that we are not building a business over here that could damage our part of our business over here.

Q820 Paul Farrelly: With candidates and parties, would you work for campaign organisations such as super PACs?

Alexander Nix: Yes, we have done a number of campaigns on behalf of super PACs.

Q821 Paul Farrelly: All on the Republican side?

Alexander Nix: That is correct.

Q822 Paul Farrelly: What about campaigning organisations like the American Enterprise Institute? Would you work with that sort of organisation?

Alexander Nix: Actually, I am not familiar with them, but we do work for organisations and lobbying and advocacy groups across America. I can’t speak to them, but I can speak to other ones.

Q823 Paul Farrelly: We have only the briefest biography of you that starts with Manchester University and ends with you joining SCL in 2003. How did you get into all this? How did you get into this line of business?

Alexander Nix: A huge interest, I think. Fundamentally, I was working in corporate finance, which I did not find particularly fulfilling.

Q824 Paul Farrelly: I was the same, actually. Where were you in corporate finance?

Alexander Nix: At a small UK merchant bank up the road from here, and I was looking for an opportunity to work in a slightly more relevant and fulfilling occupation.

Q825 Paul Farrelly: You are not a data processing PhD yourself?

Alexander Nix: I am not a data PhD myself.

Q826 Paul Farrelly: What qualifications do you have?

Alexander Nix: In terms of this company, I lead a management team so I don’t need to be qualified as a data scientist. I need to be qualified to run a business.

Q827 Paul Farrelly: Lots of people in corporate finance are accountants or lawyers or, like me, none of them.

Alexander Nix: As the CEO of a company, you know perfectly well that there is so much you can learn in school and then there is a lot you can learn in life. We have been doing this for many, many hours a week for many weeks and for many years now and hopefully the fruits of that labour are beginning to come together.

Q828 Paul Farrelly: Did you start off as a lawyer or an accountant or just a generalist?

Alexander Nix: No, neither of those, just a generalist.

Q829 Ian C. Lucas: Do you exercise any editorial control over the messages that your clients send to, for example, electoral and political campaigns?

Alexander Nix: All the messages that we propose to campaigns are signed off by the campaigns themselves and go through campaign legal. There is an internal compliance structure to make sure that we are not infringing any legislation of the FEC or any other body that might be governing the work that we do.

Q830 Ian C. Lucas: You propose messages as part of your role. In other words, the initiative comes from you and then it goes to the campaign.

Alexander Nix: That is correct. We interpret and draw insights from the data, and we use those insights to devise the messaging strategy and the messaging content. We then share these messages and content with the campaign, and we discuss our strategy with them. Often there is a dialogue about that and some tweaks are made. We then push that through legal and compliance. They will give us their feedback and ultimately the messages are disseminated.

Q831 Ian C. Lucas: Presumably the campaign makes proposals to you and a similar process continues. In other words, they would have an idea for a message that they wanted to deliver to the elector and they would present that to you. Would that be a situation that arises?

Alexander Nix: It might well do and then we might go out and roll out one of those surveys that I talked about. We can go and test that message, or A/B test it, digitally for instance, and we could give them empirical feedback about which message was likely to perform better, how it should be run and who should be targeted.

Q832 Ian C. Lucas: Have you ever rejected a message from a campaign on ethical grounds?

Alexander Nix: We run possibly thousands. I think in the last election in the US we ran 4,000 different advertising campaigns—about 1.4 billion impressions. We served for five months. I cannot speak to that.

Q833 Ian C. Lucas: Can I just say why I am asking you the question? You have been very keen to emphasise the benevolence of the role that your company is performing, fulfilling the public good of informing electors about particular candidates and making campaigns relevant. But we are all grown-ups, here. We are all politicians on this side of the table. We know that there is negative campaigning and there is positive campaigning, and one of the dangers of mass communication in this format is reinforcing, for example, very negative stereotypes. Do you agree with that?

Alexander Nix: As politicians who understand campaigning, I think you will also understand that winning elections is not about reinforcing prejudice on either side of the political spectrum. There is no point in telling hardcore Republicans how bad Clinton is and how good Trump is, or vice versa. It is about correctly identifying the people that sit in the middle—the persuadable or swing voters—and presenting to them very well articulated facts on the particular policies and issues that they care about most, so they can begin to make their opinions.

Q834 Ian C. Lucas: I agree with all of that, but it is also about finding those same people and maybe reinforcing fears that they have, or perhaps it is about emphasising bad aspects that they may possibly believe and that could be reinforced. That is another way of persuading people in different directions.

Alexander Nix: In the case of negative campaigning, you would be right, and in the case of positive campaigning, it would be about emphasising the hopes they have—aka Obama 2008.

Ian C. Lucas: Absolutely.

Alexander Nix: It works both ways, and we are no strangers to positive and negative campaigns.

Q835 Ian C. Lucas: I am talking about one particular way and, as you know, this is about fake news. The reason I am asking you has there ever been an ethical reason why you have refused to run a particular ad is because I am aware of examples of campaign ads that I would not use in my campaign, and I am a politician. Are you aware of any example of that kind, where Cambridge Analytica has said, “We are not going to do that”? This is very relevant to the question of fake news.

Alexander Nix: I would like to say to you, sir, that I am sure there are dozens of examples, but—

Ian C. Lucas: Can you go away and bring us some?

Alexander Nix: To go through the 1.4 billion impressions that we served in last year’s US elections, look at each one that we served, look at all the ones that we rejected and come back to you would not be a reasonable request to put on us.

Q836 Ian C. Lucas: What level of control is there over the ads that you project to people?

Alexander Nix: I just discussed this with your colleague. The adverts that we propose to the campaign are shared with the campaign and the campaign signs them off. That goes to legal, and legal and compliance need to sign them off. There is a process. There are checks and balances.

Q837 Ian C. Lucas: Can you please give one? I am not asking for 1.2 million.

Alexander Nix: Billion.

Ian C. Lucas: Okay, billion. I am asking for one example. Are they all different from each other?

Alexander Nix: Yes.

Q838 Ian C. Lucas: Every single one is different?

Alexander Nix: No. There were some 4,000 campaigns that were different.

Q839 Ian C. Lucas: All I would like to see is one example of an ad where Cambridge Analytica said, “We’re not going to allow this to go out. We deny this”.

Alexander Nix: That is certainly something that we will look into.

Ian C. Lucas: Thank you very much.

Q840 Chair: Thank you, Mr Nix. Just a couple of final questions. We have spoken quite a lot about the way in which you store, manage and gather data, and how you seek to comply with the Data Protection Act in the UK. Rather than going through any further detail today, perhaps you would be able to write to the Committee to set out what your policies are on how you source data, manage it, share it with third parties, and how you ensure that you do so in compliance with the Data Protection Act?

Alexander Nix: Certainly. We will get back to you on that.

Q841 Chair: You know that Julian Assange claimed that Cambridge Analytica approached WikiLeaks to work with them and that they rejected the offer. That is a statement that he has put out. I know we touched on this earlier, but can you confirm whether any approach has ever been made to Julian Assange by Cambridge Analytica?

Alexander Nix: Yes, certainly. I would be happy to speak to that as I did, I think, in front of a very large audience in Lisbon last year. This was at the time, as you will remember, when the newspapers and the news channels were reporting that Julian Assange had access to a large quantity of information that could be incredibly relevant to the outcome of the US election. We read about these claims. We had no idea, as no one did, whether this was true or not so we simply reached out to a speaking agency that represents him—that was the only way we could find to get hold of him—and said, “Would you pass him a message commenting on this and asking whether he would like to meet to discuss this?” and we received a message back through this third party, the intermediary, saying no, they would not. That was it. We, like probably every other journalist in this room, were very keen to find out what was in these data and whether they would have an impact. We were all disappointed.

Q842 Chair: You said earlier on that you gathered this large amount of data for the Trump campaign as part of the survey work that was done and that you will write to us to say whether that was data that you held or the campaign held. If that was being gathered by you, obviously on behalf of the campaign, would other people in the campaign have access to that data and the ability to share that with third parties without your knowledge?

Alexander Nix: Quite unlikely. Hypothetically, anyone could possibly have taken advantage of that but they would have had to have been someone on the inside who had taken the data illegally.

Q843 Chair: Yes, but while you do not know that is the case, it would be technically possible, even if hypothetical?

Alexander Nix: It is technically possible—and I am certainly not suggesting this—that an employee may have illegally taken the data and passed it elsewhere, yes.

Q844 Chair: Thank you. Again it is relevant to our question. I know that it is a case relating to America, but to have some written evidence from you about the protocols you have for data management and how you can make sure that you keep people’s data secure, and do so without being in breach of the Data Protection Act, would be very helpful.

Finally, on other countries where you have worked, have you ever worked in Russia or on behalf of Russian companies or organisations?

Alexander Nix: We have never worked in Russia. As far as I am aware, we have never worked for a Russian company. We have never worked with a Russian organisation in Russia or any other country. We do not have any relationship with Russia or Russian individuals.

Q845 Chair: If a Russian company came along and said, “Would you work for us?” would you do it or would you reject that?

Alexander Nix: There are many companies in Russia that are stand-up companies doing normal and fair business, so we would have to evaluate that but, given the current climate, I do not think that would be necessarily our first client of choice.

Q846 Chair: Would you ever work on political campaigns in a third country on behalf of someone else?

Alexander Nix: We have worked on advocacy campaigns and we have worked on communication campaigns that have been for the benefit of other countries who wish to target other audiences. For instance, if the UK wants to drive tourism in America, we might do a campaign for the Government here. As a general rule, however, we look at these things very carefully.

Q847 Chair: A totally hypothetical example—not one that I have been given but a hypothetical—is the referendum in Catalonia last year. If, say, a commercial entity said, “I have a big interest in the outcome of that referendum because that region is commercially important to me. I want to run a campaign within that region that would encourage people to stay as part of Spain,” would you take on a project like that as a UK-based or American-based business, working maybe for a company in another country but targeting voters in yet another location?

Alexander Nix: In that hypothetical instance, we could not necessarily engage with a company, but if the company had an arrangement with a political party, and that was between them and they wanted to help that political party and the party brought us in, again those sorts of discussions would be outside of our remit and they would never need to involve us. We would be engaged by a political party. If they had a relationship with a business or another third party regarding financing, dependent on the regulations in their particular country, that might be possible.

Q848 Chair: Obviously it depends on the legislation because you could be in breach of electoral law to be receiving funding from a third country to conduct political campaigns in another.

Alexander Nix: Absolutely. That is why, again, we look at these things very carefully. We have an in-house legal team. We have external legal teams. We choose our clients very carefully. We would never want to put ourselves in a position like that. Of course not.

Chair: Thank you. I think that concludes our questions this morning. Thank you very much for your time.
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 24483
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: Harvey Weinstein’s Army of Spies: The film executive hir

Postby admin » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:28 am

Cambridge Analytica's daddy biz had 'routine access' to UK secrets: Letter shows SCL gave psyops training to Brit defence staff
by Rebecca Hill
29 Mar 2018 at 15:59 40

NOTICE: THIS WORK MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT

YOU ARE REQUIRED TO READ THE COPYRIGHT NOTICE AT THIS LINK BEFORE YOU READ THE FOLLOWING WORK, THAT IS AVAILABLE SOLELY FOR PRIVATE STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP OR RESEARCH PURSUANT TO 17 U.S.C. SECTION 107 AND 108. IN THE EVENT THAT THE LIBRARY DETERMINES THAT UNLAWFUL COPYING OF THIS WORK HAS OCCURRED, THE LIBRARY HAS THE RIGHT TO BLOCK THE I.P. ADDRESS AT WHICH THE UNLAWFUL COPYING APPEARED TO HAVE OCCURRED. THANK YOU FOR RESPECTING THE RIGHTS OF COPYRIGHT OWNERS.


Image
Secret documents picture

Cambridge Analytica's parent biz had "routine access to UK secret information" as part of training it offered to the UK's psyops group, according to documents released today.

A letter, published as part of a cache handed over to MPs by whisteblower Chris Wylie, details work that Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) carried out for the 15 (UK) Psychological Operations Group.

Dated 11 January 2012, it said that the group – which has since been subsumed into the unit 77 Brigade – received training from SCL, first as part of a commission and then on a continued basis without additional cost to the Ministry of Defence.

The author's name is redacted, but it stated that SCL were a "UK List 'X' accredited company cleared to routine access to UK secret information".

It said that five training staff from SCL provided the group with measurement of effect training over the course of two weeks, with students including Defence Science and Technology Ltd scientists, deploying military officers and senior soldiers.

It said that, because of SCL's clearance, the final part of the package "was a classified case study from current operations in Helmand, Afghanistan".

The author commented: "Such contemporary realism added enormous value to the course."

The letter went on to say that, since delivery, SCL has continued to support the group "without additional charge to the MoD", which involved "further testing of the trained product on operations in Libya and Afghanistan".

Finally, the document's author offered their recommendation for the service provided by SCL.

It said that, although the MoD is "officially disbarred from offering commercial endorsement", the author would have "no hesitation in inviting SCL to tender for further contracts of this nature".

They added: "Indeed it is my personal view that there are very few, if any, other commercial organisations that can deliver proven training and education of this very specialist nature."

SCL was set up by Alexander Nix, but when Steve Bannon later came onboard it operated under the name Cambridge Analytica, which Wylie said on Tuesday was aimed at appealing to Bannon's interest in focusing on the academic side of its work.

The firm is at the heart of the allegations about the use of 50 million Facebook users' data for political profiling and microtargeting. ®
admin
Site Admin
 
Posts: 24483
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Previous

Return to A Growing Corpus of Analytical Materials

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest