Does Cambridge Analytica secretly campaign in elections across the world?
An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News reveals how British firm Cambridge Analytica secretly campaigns in elections across the world.
The admissions were filmed at a series of meetings at London hotels over four months, between November 2017 and January 2018. An undercover reporter for Channel 4 News posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka.
In an undercover investigation by Channel 4 News, the company’s chief executive Alexander Nix said the British firm secretly campaigns in elections across the world. This includes operating through a web of shadowy front companies, or by using sub-contractors.
In one exchange, Mr Nix said: "We’ll offer a large amount of money to the candidate, to finance his campaign in exchange for land for instance, we’ll have the whole thing recorded, we’ll blank out the face of our guy and we post it on the Internet."
Along with Mr Nix, the meetings also included Mark Turnbull, the managing director of CA Political Global, and the company’s chief data officer, Dr Alex Tayler, Channel 4 said on its website.
Mr Turnbull described how, having obtained damaging material on opponents, Cambridge Analytica can discreetly push it onto social media and the internet.
Mr Nix also said: "…Many of our clients don’t want to be seen to be working with a foreign company… so often we set up, if we are working then we can set up fake IDs and websites, we can be students doing research projects attached to a university, we can be tourists, there’s so many options we can look at. I have lots of experience in this."
In the meetings, the executives boasted that Cambridge Analytica and its parent company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) had worked in more than two hundred elections across the world, including Nigeria, Kenya, the Czech Republic, India and Argentina.
The company is at the centre of a scandal over its role in the harvesting of more than 50 million Facebook profiles.
Chief executive Mr Nix has also been accused of misleading a parliamentary select committee, which is now asking him to provide further information. He has denied the allegations.
A Cambridge Analytica spokesman said today: "We entirely refute any allegation that Cambridge Analytica or any of its affiliates use entrapment, bribes, or so-called “honey-traps” for any purpose whatsoever… We routinely undertake conversations with prospective clients to try to tease out any unethical or illegal intentions…"
They said: "Cambridge Analytica does not use untrue material for any purpose."
And they insisted that opposition research and intelligence gathering, the use of subcontractors and working discreetly with clients are all common practice and legitimate.