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Use of Facebook Data by Cambridge Analytica Broke British Law …
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Posted by:
Greg Lance – Watkins
Greg_L-W

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Hi,

Image
Arron Banks, a backer of Britain’s exit from the European Union, in June. The Information Commissioner’s Office found that the company he owns broke British law when it used customer data to aid the Brexit campaign. Credit CreditSimon Dawson/Reuters

LONDON — The defunct political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica violated British law when it used improperly harvested Facebook data to aid Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, and would face a significant fine if it were not already in bankruptcy, Britain’s top data protection watchdog found Tuesday.

The long-awaited report by Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office, which has been investigating the misuse of personal data by political campaigns, also said an insurance company owned by Arron Banks, a main backer of Britain’s campaign to leave the European Union, broke British law when it used customer data to aid the Brexit effort.

According to the commissioner’s office, the company, Eldon Insurance, shared private email addresses to be sent campaign messages on behalf of Leave.EU, a pro-Brexit group, months before the 2016 referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union.

The 112-page report underscored how modern political campaigns rely on Facebook data and other consumer information, extracted or bought by consulting firms with little oversight and few protections for consumers. An investigation in March by The New York Times, The Observer of London and The Guardian revealed how Cambridge Analytica — at the time an upstart data firm bankrolled by the conservative billionaire Robert Mercer — had improperly obtained and exploited Facebook data from as many as 87 million users around the globe.

The commissioner’s investigation revealed that political campaigns in Britain had exercised little restraint in exploiting consumer data, despite the European Union’s relatively strict data laws. Political groups were acting more like online businesses and internet marketing firms to target and engage voters, the report concluded.

“We have uncovered a disturbing disregard for voters’ personal privacy,” the commissioner found.

The finding also adds to legal and political scrutiny of Mr. Banks, who was the single largest donor to the Brexit campaign. His dealings with the Russian ambassador ahead of the referendum have separately raised questions about whether the Kremlin sought to reward important backers of Britain’s exit from the European Union, and prompted British election officials last week to ask for a police investigation. In Washington, the special prosecutor, Robert S. Mueller III, has obtained records of Mr. Banks’s communications with Russian diplomats.

Now Mr. Banks’s insurance company and the Leave.EU campaign are facing total fines of 135,000 pounds, or about $177,000, for the privacy breaches, which occurred in 2015, 2016 and 2017. The insurance company owned by Mr. Banks will also be audited, the report said.

But the commissioner rejected accusations that Leave.EU secretly employed Cambridge Analytica — and possibly exploited its Facebook data haul — during the Brexit campaign, potentially violating British election disclosure laws. Though Cambridge Analytica considered working with Leave.EU, and even sent one executive to appear with Leave.EU officials at a news conference, the data company never reached an agreement with the campaign, the commissioner found.

Mr. Banks, sometimes described as the “godfather of Brexit,” has denied wrongdoing and was quick to rebuff the findings of the information commissioner’s office. The investigators “find no evidence of a grand data conspiracy and find we may have accidentally sent a newsletter to customers,” Mr. Banks said on Twitter.

But investigators specifically described an improper intermingling of data between Eldon Insurance, Mr. Bank’s company, and the Leave.EU campaign he co-founded.

Investigators said more than one million emails sent to Leave.EU supporters over two separate periods had also included marketing for Eldon Insurance services. Eldon customers also were sent a Leave.EU newsletter, an incident the company described as a mistake in managing an email distribution system.

The two organizations were already known to have close ties, including sharing board members.

The investigation began last year to look into the potential misuse of data in the British referendum on leaving the European Union. But it took on new urgency when The Times, The Observer and The Guardian revealed in March that Cambridge had improperly harvested the personal information of tens of millions of Facebook users without their consent.

The British investigation involved 71 witnesses, 30 organizations whose data practices were reviewed and 700 terabytes of data — the equivalent of 52 billion pages.

In an earlier report, issued in July, the Information Commissioner’s Office said it had fined Facebook £500,000, or about $660,000 — the maximum under British law — for allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest user data.

In addition to the new details about Mr. Banks, Tuesday’s report provides more information about the investigation into how Cambridge Analytica obtained Facebook user data.

The investigation found that Cambridge had nimbly evaded what few restrictions Facebook imposed by contracting with an academic researcher working at Cambridge University, who used an app to harvest the data, almost all of it without the users’ explicit consent.

The political consulting firm teamed up with the researcher, Aleksandr Kogan, who had created an application that collected demographic information, News Feed posts, friend lists, pages that users had liked and other data.

The information was used to create physiological profiles that could guide the targeting of political messages.

In March, officials obtained a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s offices, getting access to mobile phones, storage devices, computers and financial records. At one location, the authorities said, they discovered a number of physically damaged servers, from which investigators were able to recover information.

Investigators said the Information Commissioner’s Office needed more to time to review evidence, including Cambridge Analytica’s email system, to better determine who had access to data on Facebook users.

“There are several strands that will take us into the future,” said Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner.

Cambridge Analytica announced in May that it was ceasing most operations and filing for bankruptcy amid growing legal and political scrutiny of its business practices and work for the Trump campaign. The elections division of Cambridge’s British affiliate, SCL Group, was also shut down.

In its report on Tuesday, the information commissioner said that had the company still existed, it would have faced “a substantial fine for very serious breaches” or Britain’s data protection laws. The company, the report added, engaged in “unfairly processing people’s personal data for political purposes, including purposes connected with the 2016 U.S. presidential campaigns.”

The report did not draw any conclusions about whether data mining techniques used by Cambridge Analytica and others had determined the outcome of elections in the United States or Britain, but the regulator called on policymakers to draft new laws to restrict how data is collected and shared for political purposes.

“We may never know whether individuals were unknowingly influenced to vote a certain way in either the U.K. E.U. referendum or the U.S. election campaigns,” the report said. “But we do know that personal privacy rights have been compromised by a number of players and that the digital electoral ecosystem needs reform.”

Adam Satariano reported from London, and Nicholas Confessore from New York. Matthew Rosenberg contributed reporting from Washington.

To view the original article CLICK HERE

 

Regards,
Greg_L-W.

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Posted by: Greg Lance-Watkins
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With an avg. 1.2M voters per MEP & Britain with 16% of EU GDP and 13% of the EU’s population yet  having only 8% (if united) say, whilst holding less than 3% of the various offices within the EU Do note The EUropean Parliament has no ability to make policy and has a Commission of unelected bureaucrats, thus clearly the EU is not even a pretence of being a democracy despite its protestations!
Do note that many senior apparatchicks and even elected politicians speak openly of the ‘Post Democratic era’ with no sense of shame or irony and in complete contempt of the so called electorate – yet The EU & many of its vassal States/Regions are all too willing to slaughter people in Sovereign States, to impose The EU’s chosen brand of democracy on them!

Now as President Junker announced in his ‘State of the union’ speech 2017 the aim is to create an EU military force and centralise ever more of the decision making and control!

The imposition of a Government and policies upon its vassal regions such as the peoples of Greece shows just how far from being a democracy the EU is.

Just follow the recent EU display of so called ‘Democracy’:
France and the Netherlands voted against the proposed EU constitution in 2005, only to have those votes ignored.
Ireland voted against ratifying the Lisbon treaty in 2008, but then later under pressure & threats had to change its mind.
Greece for me was the final straw. It became clear in 2015 that it didn’t matter which way the Greek people voted. The birthplace of democracy had become its tomb. That was enough. I was going to vote to leave the EU when the chance came.

No political party of any significance in Britain took active steps to achieve a Referendum – the task was eventually taken by an Indipendent West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire who personally launched and funded the gathering of a petition of 225,000 signatures delivered to Parliament via Downing Street, thus forcing a debate in the House of Commons on an IN/OUT Referendum, which led to David Cameron’s first consequential rebellion.

It was due to winning that debate, officially opposed by every party including Ukip that David Cameron was forced to include a promise of an IN/OUT Referendum in the Tory Manifesto at the next General Election. The rest is history & despite no Parliamentary Party backing the OUT vote & Government spending Millions of Pounds of public money leafletting & promoting ‘Project Fear’ to try to persuade the British people to Remain just as they had at the first Referendum in 1975 – This time their lies and threats were not heeded and in the largest vote in British history Britain voted by a clear majority to Leave.

Nikki Sinclaire’s OUT result left Cameron & his co conspirator Osborne with no option but to resign, sadly some of the other traitors have remained to try to hinder progress to BreXit, aided by their corrupt allies in the EU and \eu funding and bribes!

There will be little or no change in Britain’s economic position, if we leave the EU, using a better negotiated, customised & updated version of the ‘Norway Model’ as a stepping stone to becoming a full member of the Eropean Economic Area, where all will benefit, as we secure trade relations with the EU’s vassal regions, with an EFTA style status and can trade and negotiate independently on the global stage, as members of The Commonwealth and the Anglosphere.

This is of course dependent on a modicum of intelligence on the part of Britain’s politicians and negotiators but it also requires the integrity of Parliament to uphod democracy and the integrity of EU politicuians & apparchicks to act ethically and without their normal vindictive mallice.

I believe Leaving the EU will be turned into something of a rough ride by the ignorant and the corrupt but I have no doubt that in the long run Leaving the EU will prove conclusively to be in the best interests of Britain and our true allies. I also believe that Britain leaving the EU will prove to be the catalyst to great changes within the EU and hopefully its democratisation as without great changes it is indubitably doomed.

Do not overlook the fact that politicians have plotted and schemmed since the 1950s and we have actually been vassals of the EU, when it was still using the aesopian linguistics and calling itself The Common Market in the early 1970s, a name the bureaucrats arbitrarily changed to EUropean Union in the early 1990s as they worked towards their long term goals of an ever closer centrally controlled Political and economic Union with its own anthem, currency, flag and rigid central control by its self appointed bureacrats towards a new Empirate –

It will take many years to rectify the mess our political class got us into and we have no other peacefull means by which to extricate ourselves than to depend on that self same self styled elite, who all too often forget they work for us!

One huge benefit of BreXit will be that we can negotiate with bodies like the WTO, UN, WHO, IMF, CODEX and the like, directly, in our own interest and that of our partners around the world, in both the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere at large; rather than having negotiations and terms imposed by unelected EU bureacrats and their interpretation of the rules handed down, as if they were some great achievement of the EU’s!
The greatest change and benefit will be political, as we improve our democracy and self determination, with the ability to deselect and elect our own Government, with an improved Westminster structure, see >Harrogate Agenda<.
How we go about the process of disentangling our future wellbeing from the EU is laid out in extensive, well researched and immensely tedious detail see >FleXcit< or for a brief video summary CLICK HERE
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Posted by:
Greg Lance – Watkins
Greg_L-W

eMail Address:
Greg_L-W@BTconnect.com

Blog About The Main Web Site:
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www.InfoWebSite.UK

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