- Ex Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser gave evidence to MPs
- She said the company devised several quizzes as a way of getting people’s data
- She said data harvesting scandal extends beyond the 87m people identified
- Said Arron Banks used data from his insurance firm for Leave.EU’s campaign
Millionaire Brexit backer Arron Banks may have broken the law by using the details of thousands of drivers he sold insurance to in the Leave.EU campaign, MPs today heard.
Cambridge Analytica (CA) whistleblower Brittany Kaiser said the misuse and sharing of data was ‘rife’ among organisations run by the anti-EU business tycoon.
She said staff working for Leave.EU were freely using data of those signed up to Mr Banks’ insurance firms GoSkippy and Eldon Insurance, and the Ukip database.
Ms Kaiser said Mr Banks told her ‘it’s my data’ and used it as he pleased – but she now thinks that it was a breach of data Protection laws.
Her explosive allegations came as she gave evidence to the Commons culture select committee – which is investigating fake news – today.
Ms Kaiser also warned that the Facebook data harvesting scandal will get bigger with potentially millions more users than the 87million identified having had their data harvested.
The former director of Cambridge Analytica said citizens’ data was ‘scraped, resold and modelled willy-nilly’.
She said the firm posted quizzes – one named the ‘Sex Compass’ about a person’s sexual preferences and another about music – used to secretly get data.
Cambridge Analytica (CA) whistleblower Brittany Kaiser (pictured left today in parliament) said the misuse and sharing of data was ‘rife’ among organisations run by the anti-EU business tycoon Arron banks (pictured right, file pic)
She told MPs how those working for Leave.EU during the Brexit referendum campaign were openly using the private details of those signed up to the insurance companies to make calls.
In a statement to the committee she said: ‘In hindsight, I now think that there is reason to believe that misuse of data was rife amongst the businesses and campaigns of Arron Banks.
‘If the personal data of UK citizens who just wanted to buy car insurance was used by GoSkippy and Eldon Insurance for political purposes, as may have been the case, people clearly did not opt in for their data to be used in this way by Leave.EU.
‘I have similar concerns about whether UKIP members consented to the use of their data.’
Ms Kaiser said she saw the breaches ‘with my own eyes’ at an office in Bristol.
She said: ‘I visited the Eldon insurance and Leave.EU headquarters – which was in the same building and same staff – when a senior data specialist and myself spent time with their phone bank I was told by the people that they were calling out of the insurance database.’
She added: ‘I have evidence from my own eyes of possible breaches of the Data Protection Act concerning the usage of commercial and personal data of individuals in the Eldon insurance database and possibly the Ukip database being used for the Leave.EU campaign
What did ex Cambridge Analytica director Brittany Kaiser say in her evidence to MPs?
Brittany Kaiser made her explosive allegations came as she gave evidence to the Commons culture select committee – which is investigating fake news – today.
Arron Banks may have broken the law:
Brittany Kaiser claims that millionaire businessman used the personal data of Britons who he sold insurance to for the Leave.EU campaign
She said this may have then been sent to the US to help him set up another firm – Big Data Dolphins.
This may amount to criminal activity, she added.
Facebook scandal will affect more than 87million users identified:
The whistleblower claimed that many more Facebook users will have had their data harvested.
She said Cambridge Analytica used at least two more quizzes – one about sex and another about music – to take scrape users’ information.
Cambridge Analytica may have kept hold of data
CA told Facebook it had deleted data collected from the social media network in January 2016 but the company was still using ‘Facebook-like data’ in March of that year, Ms Kaiser said.
Cambridge Analytica pitched to the SNP:
She said that members of the SNP travelled to CA’s Mayfair offices to hear a pitch for work.
It is not believed they actually used CA, however.
‘When I visited the Eldon insurance and Leave.EU headquarters – which was in the same building and same staff – when a senior data specialist and myself spent time with their phone bank I was told by the people that they were calling out of the insurance database.’
She said Mr Banks decided not to give a contract to Cambridge Analtytica, but later copied their propaganda methods by setting up Big Data Dolphins, in Mississippi.
She said CA used Ukip’s membership and survey data to build a model to find ‘individuals most likely to vote yes in the EU referendum’.
She added: ‘We never had a contract with Leave.EU, the contract was with the UK Independence Party for the analysis of this data but it was meant to benefit Leave.EU.’
Ms Kaiser, who left CA in January, lifted the lid on what she dubbed the ‘Wild West’ culture inside the firm in lengthy evidence to the committee.
Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said that 87 million users have had their data harvested without their knowledge by CA after filling in a quiz online.
But she said the scandal is likely to affect maybe millions more users who filled in quizzes about the sex lives and music tastes.
She said: ‘It’s important also to emphasise that during most of my time at Cambridge Analytica, the culture and assumptions of the firm and the wider data brokerage and ad tech industries within which it operated were a bit ‘Wild West’, with citizens’ data being scraped, resold and modelled willy-nilly.
‘I have gained further understanding and perspective on these issues in recent weeks.
‘I do believe I have evidence of CA obtaining, retaining and using these datasets, seemingly in contravention of legal obligations.’
She also said the quizzes used to secretly harvest someone’s data extended beyond the questionnaire developed by Aleksandr Kogan.
She said: ‘I am aware in a general sense of a wide range of surveys which were done by CA or its partners, usually with a Facebook login – for example, the ‘sex compass’ quiz.
‘I do not know the specifics of these surveys or how the data was acquired or processed.
‘But I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by Kogan is much greater than 87 million; and that both Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities.’
Caroline Lucas, co leader of the Green party and a member of the anti Brexit group Best for Britain, called for an inquiry into the referendum campaign.
The whistleblower (pictured giving evidence to MPs today) said the firm posted quizzes – one named the ‘Sex Compass’ about a person’s sexual preferences and another about music – which would have harvested data
She said: ‘There is an increasingly dark cloud of suspicion hanging over the actions of the Leave campaign – and the blurred lines between campaigns and organisations that really should have been separate.
‘Indeed the potential wrongdoing we’re seeing here appears so widespread that it calls into question the fairness of the referendum, and makes the case for a people’s vote on the EU deal even stronger.’
An SNP spokesman said: ‘The SNP has never worked with Cambridge Analytica.
‘An external consultant had one meeting in London. His assessment was that they were ‘a bunch of cowboys’, which turned out to be true. No further meetings were held.’
Leave.EU said: ‘having listened to the confused litany of lies and allegations by Brittany Kaiser we refute categorically all of her statements to Damian Collins’ vanity enquiry, an investigation into fake news generating more fake news.’
‘No data has been sent to Mississippi.’
Richard Tice, a co-founder of Leave.EU, said Cambridge Analytica did no work for the campaign, adding: They only made a pitch and a proposal and received no data or undertook any modelling for Leave.EU.’