Cambridge Analytica Uncovered and More to Come

A little recap of events overnight while we wait for Channel 4’s next video. Channel 4 had already posted a video on March 17 which you can see here:

Very much worth watching — listen carefully to whistleblower Chris Wylie explain what data was used and how it was used. I can’t emphasize enough the problem of non-consensual use; if you didn’t explicitly consent but a friend did, they still swept up your data

David Carroll of Parsons School of Design (@profcarroll) offered a short and sweet synopsis last evening of the fallout after UK’s Channel 4 aired the first video of Cambridge Analytica Uncovered.

Facebook CTO Alex Stamos had a disagreement with management about the company’s handling of crisis; first reports said he had resigned. Stamos tweeted later, explaining:

“Despite the rumors, I’m still fully engaged with my work at Facebook. It’s true that my role did change. I’m currently spending more time exploring emerging security risks and working on election security.”

Other reports say Stamos is leaving in August. Both could be true: his job has changed and he’s eventually leaving.

I’m betting we will hear from him before Congress soon, whatever the truth.

Speaking of Congress, Sen. Ron Wyden has asked Mark Zuckerberg to provide a lot of information pronto to staffer Chris Sogohian. This ought to be a lot of fun.

A Facebook whistleblower has now come forward; Sandy Parkilas said covert harvesting of users’ data happened frequently, and Facebook could have done something about it.

Perhaps we ought to talk about nationalization of a citizens’ database?

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92 replies
  1. Lit3Bolt says:

    “Citizens’ database?!  Deep State!  Big gubmit!”

    “Paw, your SS check and Medicare benefit summary arrived.  The VA also called, you missed an appointment.”

    • bmaz says:

      I freed up this comment from moderation only because I have no idea what you  mean. Care to elaborate?

      Cause it looks like crazy shit from here.

      • Bob Conyers says:

        It’s a joke. It’s making fun of the mentality of people who are desperate to get the government out of health care in order to preserve Medicare.

          • matt says:

            I know you’re being facetious… The private insurers don’t want Medicare- there’s no money in it.  The Medicare tax actually subsidizes the health insurance industry by removing the highest “risk pool.”  The threat to Medicare is that Congress won’t fund it (raise the tax), and the reimbursements are going down so low… that many doctors are bailing.

  2. terian says:

    I wasn’t sure what Nationalizing would look like.  I found this comprehensive article on it.  Wyden is my Senator and we’re pretty proud of him.  He gets shit done.  My new heroes are folks who are coming out w/the truth about the companies like FB that they’ve worked for.  God this is all so depressing.  I hate greed.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/30/nationalise-google-facebook-amazon-data-monopoly-platform-public-interest

    • matt says:

      Great article.  The early 20th century capitalist academics and business establishment openly talked about the dangers of cartels/monopolies/trusts to the long-term success of capitalism as system of political economy.  Now any talk like that comes only from anti-American, freedom hating, socialist, progressive, atheists- apparently.

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        It all started going downhill with assassination of JFK. Before then, the tax structure was well designed.
        After that, the ones that made a lot of money got richer.
        And, then, they got hooked on the addiction to money.
        But, before then, everyone had a chance to get ahead, so they knew then monoplies were bad.

        • matt says:

          Yes, I would love to visit an alternate universe where the JFK presidency survived.  Maybe in that universe there was no Cold War, Vietnam, Iran-Contra, S&L failure, 1st Iraq war, Enron, 9/11, Afghanistan war, 2nd Iraq war, 08 Great Recession, Syrian war, and… finally, DJT.   (I’ve been reading about Astral Travel to alternate universes… maybe that universe actually exists on another dimensional plane- one can only hope).

          …wait a minute, would you or I even exist in that alternate universe?

  3. soldalinsky says:

    Why nationalize these companies?  They need to be broken up.  Who cares about third party TOS anyways? FB is rotten to its core.  FB, not just third party analytical services, engages in information operations all over the world.  To think that they’re not doing it here too is naive.  Higher up stream, you have the NSA and got only knows what else abusing data too.  The NSA’s PRISM program comes to mind.

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2017-12-21/inside-the-facebook-team-helping-regimes-that-reach-out-and-crack-down

    So it’s OK when the blue team does it?  Nobody said anything back then:

    http://swampland.time.com/2012/11/20/friended-how-the-obama-campaign-connected-with-young-voters/

    • SteveB says:

      It often helps to read the article you cite to support your implication that what CA did replicated the use of social media during the Obama campaign.

      I recommend re-reading paragraph4 which outlines how the 2012 campaign contacted the users who had downloaded the app and asked them to share specific content with specific friends.

      AS I understand it the Trump campaign, in a collusive arrangement with super PACs and CA mined the data from friendship networks and directed targeted information and disinformation without resorting to obtaining any users permission or input at any stage.

      A number of important distinctions between the two cases seems evident.

      • matt says:

        Yup, we’re already hearing that Obama did it first.  Facts be damned.  I really hope some criminal charges come out of this CA ordeal… “look they went to jail” is a lot easier for people to understand than the intricate details of illegal data mining.

      • soldalinsky says:

        Facts be damned?  Are you kidding me?  So if one of my “friends” gives the Obama campaign my phone # and the Obama campaign uses other data about me they have gleaned from my “friends” to figure out the best way to target me, it’s OK?  You are overlooking the fact that I didn’t give the Obama campaign my data, phone #, or enter into an agreement with the Obama campaign, a third party did.  Are we reading the same paragraph?  Why would the Obama campaign go through all of the trouble of downloading the friends lists and processing the data if their only objective was link promotion?

         

        From the article:

         

        A geek squad in Chicago created models from vast data sets to find the best approaches for each potential voter. “We are not just sending you a banner ad,” explains Dan Wagner, the Obama campaign’s 29-year-old head of analytics, who helped oversee the project. “We are giving you relevant information from your friends.”

        • Fran of the North says:

          We may be talking about two sides of the same coin, but I read that a different way.

          Because you have no landline (and the prohibitions on calling mobile) you are effectively invisible to the campaign. However, because I am your friend on FB, and I give them permission to look at my friends list, they now know you exist and are my friend.

          So they suggest to me that I share this content with soldalinsky by clicking the share button. My post ends up in your feed. The ‘best’ way in this instance (and all others in this example) was to reach you through your friends. They didn’t pick up your phone number, or send you messages direct. I did.

          The difference is that CA looked at my friends list, then profiled you to figure out your hot buttons. You like free enterprise and hate taxes. So CA pushes items into your feed that talk about how Candidate X wants to increase taxes and believes in socialism.

          In the CA example, I’m not the purveyor of the message. It is of a different degree.

           

          • soldalinsky says:

            Here’s another perspective on the same topic.  This article explicitly states:

            In 2012, the Obama campaign encouraged supporters to download an Obama 2012 Facebook app that, when activated, let the campaign collect Facebook data both on users and their friends.

            According to a July 2012 MIT Technology Review article, when you installed the app, “it said it would grab information about my friends: their birth dates, locations, and ‘likes.’ ”
            The campaign boasted that more than a million people downloaded the app, which, given an average friend-list size of 190, means that as many as 190 million had at least some of their Facebook data vacuumed up by the Obama campaign — without their knowledge or consent.

            If anything, Facebook made it easy for Obama to do so. A former campaign director, Carol Davidsen, tweeted that “Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we were doing.”

            This Facebook treasure trove gave Obama an unprecedented ability to reach out to nonsupporters. More important, the campaign could deliver carefully targeted campaign messages disguised as messages from friends to millions of Facebook users.

            https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/facebook-data-scandal-trump-election-obama-2012/

      • soldalinsky says:

        Hey, why take my word for it?  Here’s a few Tweets from Carol Davidsen, who served as Obama’s director of integration and media analytics during the 2012 OFA campaign.

        On March 18th:  They (Facebook Staff) came to office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.

        https://twitter.com/cld276/status/975565844632821760

        • matt says:

          You may well be right.  Even if Cambridge Analytica did violate a corporate terms of agreement with FaceBook… their advertising may have been within the parameters of legality for US elections (unless one of their “subcontractors” hacked the emails).   We shall see.  This is new territory, no doubt, for fair and free democratic elections in the USA.

    • JD12 says:

      The Obama campaign asked users to share GOTV posts with their friends. They weren’t pulling any data from those friends.

      • soldalinsky says:

        I’ll admit everything is somewhat ambiguous.   It’s hard to tell exactly what is or was going on.   Carol Davidsen did say in the tweets above that her team was able to suck the ENTIRE social graph out of FB and I find that fact alone very disturbing. Combining that data with other private and public information can give researchers pretty darn good profiles of people that don’t want to be profiled.   

        I refuse to give any politicians the benefit of the doubt, Obama included.

        • matt says:

          Were you shocked and incensed that Obama won over McCain?… or Romney?  Did you feel a sense of betrayal that somehow outside actors duped the masses into voting for a complete buffoon?*

          *(sarcastic)

          • soldalinsky says:

            It’s not about betrayal or fanatical zealotry.  It’s about adherence to the rule of law.

            • matt says:

              I agree that we should add social media and internet advertising to the long list of election reforms… campaign finance, electoral collage, voter suppression, gerrymandering, etc.  I’m a little cynical about the “rule of law” as it’s been bent quite severely towards special interest and big money.

    • harpie says:

      Two interesting threads: Emily@emlas  As the Cambridge Analytica story unfolds, we are learning more & more about Trump’s digital and data ops. […] 

      and:

      16/Earlier today I shared a theory: What if Trump bought Obama models because they were the “secret sauce” to weaponize FB profile data held by Cambridge Analytica, which had been a complete disappointment to Cruz camp in the primaries? / […] / PS – If the theory pans out & Trump campaign (w/CA) used Obama data models for the purpose of VOTER SUPPRESSION…That “Defeat Crooked Hillary” content Alexander Nix mentioned to the undercover Channel4 reporters? Perfect fit. [end]

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Problem is that everything points to purple team.

      A combo op.

      Red (the attacker side) (its the Ruskies!)

      Blue (the defender side) (we need backdoors to stop criminals)

      Checyr pngf qb abg rng engf

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      https://newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/forensic-audits-cambridge-analytica/amp/

      Originally published March 19, 2018, 11:40 AM PT:
      We have hired a digital forensics firm, Stroz Friedberg, to conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica has agreed to comply and afford the firm complete access to their servers and systems. We have approached the other parties involved — Christopher Wylie and Aleksandr Kogan — and asked them to submit to an audit as well. Mr. Kogan has given his verbal agreement to do so. Mr. Wylie thus far has declined.

      This is part of a comprehensive internal and external review that we are conducting to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists. This is data Cambridge Analytica, SCL, Mr. Wylie, and Mr. Kogan certified to Facebook had been destroyed. If this data still exists, it would be a grave violation of Facebook’s policies and an unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments these groups made.

      We are moving aggressively to determine the accuracy of these claims. We remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information. We also want to be clear that today when developers create apps that ask for certain information from people, we conduct a robust review to identify potential policy violations and to assess whether the app has a legitimate use for the data. We actually reject a significant number of apps through this process. Kogan’s app would not be permitted access to detailed friends’ data today.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      But careful parsing of the Facebook presser indicates that there is nothing in the Terms that allow Facebook to demand any audit.

      “We have hired a digital forensics firm, Stroz Friedberg, to conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica has agreed to comply and afford the firm complete access to their servers and systems. We have approached the other parties involved — Christopher Wylie and Aleksandr Kogan — and asked them to submit to an audit as well.”

      Note: Wylie said no.

      ‘agreed to comply’ is misleading. CA was *cough* asked *cough* to allow the ‘audit’. No, they were told, not asked.

      ‘Complete access to their servers and systems’ – CA basically then allowing FB to ‘audit’ (or cleanup)

      ‘asked them to submit to an audit as well’ – says not forced audit. CA was not forced. Using the word ‘comply’ is intended to make it look like CA had no choice after being ‘asked’

      It was a spin. All retro-cover for Facebook.

      And they could have destroyed evidence but others were suspicious, and so then Facebook had to release this (from same link above, repeated here, but will go thru google just to force some retention of historical info)

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/newsroom.fb.com/news/2018/03/forensic-audits-cambridge-analytica/amp/

      Update on March 19, 2018, 3:25 PM PT: Independent forensic auditors from Stroz Friedberg were on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office this evening. At the request of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, which has announced it is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation, the Stroz Friedberg auditors stood down.

      ‘its own on-site investigation’ – so what started as an audit that CA complied with was not really an audit but apparently an investigation. Sure, sure it was.

  4. SteveB says:

    Nix nixed by CA!

     

    He claimed on the video tonight that despite CA being a US  company registered in Delaware the US authorities have no jurisdiction over it!

    Is that another piece of creative hyperbole

    • Fran of the North says:

      The candidate is a puppet…

      From UK Channel 4 News Report:

      When asked, “So the candidate is the puppet?” by the undercover reporter, Nix replied, “Always.”

      • SteveB says:

        ” a cynic practices shamelessness and impudence”

        Nix is looking more mangey and dog-eared by the moment.

  5. harpie says:

    Carole Cadwalladr   @carolecadwalla 
      
    [quote] UPDATE: An ex-employee source points out “Cambridge Analytica is a legal fiction. Alexander Nix has been suspended from NOTHING.” This is a very good point. More to follow… / Look. This is in Cambridge Analytica’s own words (from when it was trying to sue us). It’s a shell company with no employees. What exactly has Alexander Nix been suspended from??? / This is an important point that @guardian’s legal superbrain, @ladywell23 has had to grapple with over months. Cambridge Analytica exists only on paper. Alexander Nix is CEO of SCL Elections. From which he hasn’t been suspended. / Alexander Nix has been suspended from a shell company that has no employees and no assets. If you think this ends here, think again. [end quote]

    • harpie says:

      Also: Wendy Siegelman @WendySiegelman 

      Cambridge Analytica executives created a company in 2017 with the Executive Director & Deputy Chairman of Erik Prince’s Frontier Services Group […] / UPDATE [1 hour ago]: Emerdata Ltd created by SCL/Cambridge Analytica’s Julian Wheatland, with Erik Prince’s business partner Chun Shun Ko appointed director Jan ’17 [correction>>: 2018] – just added Rebekah Mercer & Jennifer Mercer as directors, along w/Alexander Nix HT / CA folks – something going on with Wheatland’s Emerdata, Mercers just became directors, along with Erik Prince’s business partner

      • pdaly says:

        Thanks, Harpie.
        Along the same lines, the argument in the legal challenge by Prof. David Carroll of Parsons School of Design (@profcarroll) in UK court states the  response to his SAR request to Cambridge Analytica was from a man identifying himself as someone from SCL Grp Ltd–that man was NOT listed publicly as a Cambridge Analytica employee.

      • harpie says:

        NEW: Wendy Siegelman@WendySiegelman  9:45 PM – 20 Mar 2018

        Emerdata Ltd director Ahmad Ashraf Hosny Al Khatib who was appointed on January 23, 2018, lists his nationality as ‘citizen of Seychelles’, where Erik Prince had his Jan 2017 meeting.

      • harpie says:

        And: Ann Marlowe @annmarlowe   

        I’m sure more Russia ties of Cambridge Analytica will come out. But the bigger lesson of CA is that we’ve allowed transnational organized crime to gain control of huge swathes of our political and business worlds. Look at the Chinese ties of Emerdata, for instance

      • harpie says:

        Wendy Siegelman @WendySiegelman UPDATE 7:42 AM – 21 Mar 2018 : a new company related to the SCL/Cambridge Analytica & Mercer Emerdata has been created – Firecrest Technologies Limited, incorporated on March 7, 2018, Alexander Nix is director, Emerdata is ‘person with significant control.’ HT @patrickLSimpson

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      http://www.exeter.ac.uk/strategy/members/markturnbull/

      Mark Turnbull is managing director of SCL Elections, the premier election management agency, with unrivalled experience in delivering campaign success via measurable behavioural change. The company has worked for more than 20 years on over 100 campaigns in Europe, North and South America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. SCL Group is a multi-disciplined behavioural research and intervention agency established to address the need for a scientific and verifiable approach to often life critical communication campaigns – such as conflict transformation, humanitarian disasters, and programmes of political and social reform.

      • harpie says:

        wrt: SCL:
        Kylie Atwood@kylieatwood 2:35 PM – 20 Mar 2018 [quote] State Dept does have a contract with Strategic Communications Laboratories — mother company to Cambridge Analytica — but says work w/ them is in-person interviews, “not related to social media” [end quote]

        Laura Rozen responds: [quote] cc: State Dept IG. Let’s talk about State Department giving contracts to company whose CEO/execs talk about violating US immigration laws, bringing in Ukrainian sex workers, and bribing candidates [end quote]

          • harpie says:

            Yes, ie: the newer comments above. Late yesterday, Marlowe tweeted about the US arrest of Maltese Pilatus [private] Bank chairman, Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, over alleged $115 million sanctions evasion scheme, tweeting: “This is big – and I expect it will have ripples in the Cambridge Analytica case too as well as the murder of Daphne Caruana Galitzia.”

            They both seem to be able to see and expose many connections.

            • harpie says:

              Here she tweets a link to an “explainer” about this  Hasheminejad arrest.

              One of the counts SDNY has charged him with? ConFraudUS.

              • SpaceLifeForm says:

                More real estate mismanagement and money laundering probems.
                Seems like it is pandemic.

                Using his passport and companies outside Iran, Hasheminejad tried to evade sanctions by routing the payments through banks in the United States to Stratus Turkey’s or Clarity’s bank accounts at the financial institution in Switzerland. The majority of the funds were then transferred to another offshore entity located in the British Virgin Islands, which had been incorporated by Hasheminejad and others in 2009. In addition, on February 1, 2012, Clarity wired more than $2,000,000 of proceeds from the project directly into the United States. Those proceeds were then used to purchase real property in California.

                [bet panama papers and/or paradise papers have dots]

                • harpie says:

                  Yes. Lots of dots. That’s what Daphne Caruana Galitzia was connecting when she was murdered.

  6. harpie says:

    Also:

    Here’s a Photo of Cambridge Analytica’s CEO With the Russian Ambassador to the UK  [One of these men boasted of blackmailing politicians. The other is Putin’s representative.]  Mother Jones; MAR. 20, 2018 2:32 PM […] shot of Nix, snapped during a polo match in which he played on July 28, 2016. He happens to be posing with Alexander Yakovenko, the Russian ambassador to the United Kingdom. […]

    And:
    Laura Rozen @lrozen : [quote] Nix with Russia’s ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko on July 28, 2016, a month after his company had been hired by the Trump campaign, & days after DNC files hacked by Russian intelligence were dumped online by Wikileaks / about same time as Nix emailed Assange to ask him to share Clinton’s emails [end quote] https://twitter.com/lrozen/status/976208320460619778

  7. sharl says:

    Damn, Rayne posts here; how have I missed this for so many years?!! I loved a lot of Rayne’s stuff over at FDL back in the day, and the 2009 post analyzing Michigan’s CD-01 (‘you’re stuck with Bart Stupak’ or some similar post title) was one of the best openly* available district analyses I’ve ever read, not that I’m an expert (*I’m sure there are good reports behind paywalls like Cook’s Political Report and the like).

    I need to check in here more often!

  8. DMM says:

    While this is obviously a big story, the last thing we needed was the (re)introduction of another entity for which the abbreviated name is the same as that commonly used for something else. Every time I see CA I immediately translate it to California, and then have to mentally re-translate to Cambridge Analytica. Hence, I propose the latter be referred to as Cam Anal.

     

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      CA is shell co. SCL is real link to FB.

      https://www.itnews.com.au/news/turnbull-to-meet-trumps-big-data-consultant-456592

      Cambridge Analytica says it uses “behavioural microtargeting”, or combining analysis of people’s personalities with demographics, to predict and influence mass behavior. It says it has data on 220 million Americans, two thirds of the population.

      Its London-based parent company, consumer researcher SCL Group, says it formed Cambridge Analytica in 2013 to work on the US election. Cambridge Analytica worked for the campaign of failed Republican candidate Ted Cruz before signing on with Trump.

  9. greengiant says:

    “Trump congratulates Putin on his reelection”   Another election count well hacked Vlad!

  10. SpaceLifeForm says:

    I am smelling dots between Aon and SCL.
    Aon is parent of Stroz Friedberg.
    Aon HQ used to be Chicago, now London.

    But the dots are well hidden.

    Though there are more dots to Aon from other angles than you can throw sticks at.

  11. harpie says:

    Look at this article from 8/22/16:
    Will Donald Trump’s Data-Analytics Company Allow Russia to Access Research on U.S. Citizens?; Ann Marlowe; August 22, 2016 • 10:00 PM   [Tracing the suspicious-looking, and messy, ties between a Ukrainian oligarch [FIRTASH], an elections-information firm, and the GOP candidate’s former campaign manager [MANAFORT]
    [quote] The Trump campaign has hired Ted Cruz’s former data-analysis firm, Cambridge Analytica—and in doing so, it has connected itself with a British property tycoon, Vincent Tchenguiz, and through him with the Ukrainian oligarch Dmitry Firtash, a business associate of Trump’s campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who resigned last week. It would be hard to find a better example of why the ownership of the companies that collect data on the American electorate matters. […] [end quote]

  12. pdaly says:

    The High Court claim by New York City Parsons School of Design Prof. Carroll, who is suing CA and its parent companies in the UK court, clarifies that the UK “DPA” (Data Protections Act) applies to ALL natural persons, regardless of their nationality or residence when the data processers are in the UK:

    “The DPA gave domestic effect to the provisions of Directive 95/46/EC on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and the free movement of such data (the “Directive”). Recital 2 of the Directive states that data processing systems [which is what Cambridge Analytica Ltd, Cambridge Analytica (UK) Ltd, SCL Elections Ltd, and SCL Group are considered in this legal claim]
     “must, WHATEVER THE NATIONALITY OR RESIDENCE [all caps mine] of natural persons, respect their fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the right to privacy…””

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/4413896-Prof-David-Carroll-UK-Legal-Claim-against.html

  13. pdaly says:

    More from Prof. Carroll’s court claim:
    Prof. David Carroll, an associate professor of media design at the New York City Parsons School of Design “has particular experience in the field of online behavioural advertising technologies.” Prof. Carroll’s work “encompasses research into how the digital media and marketing industry is able to track user behaviours and how companies can use technology to “re-identify an individual from supposedly anonymous data.”

    Prof. Carroll electronically submitted to Cambridge Analytica in March 2017 a “SAR” (Subject Access Request) seeking details about their collection and use of his private information. From their March 2017 response, Prof. Carroll noted Cambridge Analytica had data on him that was of a personal nature, including privately held political beliefs, that could not have been obtained from public data.

    Prof. Carroll’ court filing describes the Cambridge Analytica response to his SAR. The details suggest to me a shell company structure:

    “A substantive response was then provided on 27 March 2017, under cover of a letter from “Cambridge Analytica”. That was a letter signed by Julian Wheatland, “Group COO”. At the time, Mr Wheatland was a director of SCL Group Limited. Based on publically available information, Mr Wheatland did not hold a position at Cambridge Analytica.

    On 27 February 2018, Alexander Nix,  Cambridge Analytica’s chief executive, gave oral evidence before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. He confirmed that the Defendants share data, stating that they: “transfer data from Cambridge Analytica to SCL.”

  14. harpie says:

    The thing that made me LOL today:

    Quinta Jurecic @qjurecic  responding to Jeff Flake’s comment that “We are begging the president not to fire the special counsel.”
    *
    [quote] few of us remember the federalist paper in which james madison described the most effective check congress can exert on the president: begging [end quote]

  15. harpie says:

    WaPoTrump’s national security advisers warned him [in all-capital letters] not to congratulate Putin. He did it anyway. March 20 at 7:15 PM  

    Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn Putin about the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in the United Kingdom with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.

  16. cue says:

    Cass Sunstein on Twitter:

    “Cambridge Analytica behaved appallingly, but no one should overreact. With strong safeguards, use of social media data can provide big benefits to health, safety, and economic opportunity.”

    https://twitter.com/CassSunstein/status/975853993762140161

    Discuss?

     

    Dismiss?

     

     

    Tell me all about those “strong safeguards” or those “big benefits to health, safety, and economic opportunity” just as soon as you can?
     

     

    • sharl says:

      Cass Sunstein came up on my Twitter TL today. It turns out that – at least at the time a January piece came out – Sunstein was/is a consultant for Facebook: Facebook says it can’t guarantee social media is good for democracy.

      Sunstein, a law professor and Facebook consultant who also worked in the administration of former U.S. President Barack Obama, said in a blog post that social media was a work in progress and that companies would need to experiment with changes to improve.

      Here’s Sunstein himself in a January post at Facebook’s newsroom site.

      Here’s a tweet by Jeff Hauser from this morning noting that NPR and at least a couple other media outlets have had Sunstein on to talk about Facebook, with no mention of the Sunstein-FB business relationship. (I haven’t verified Hauser’s observation myself.)

      There has been nothing on this firestorm on Sunstein’s Twitter feed in the past several days. NYT’s Dealbook quotes Sunstein (quote below) with a link to a Bloomberg View piece, but there’s no sign of Sunstein in that BV piece; dunno what’s going on there. Anyhoo, from the NYT piece:

       Cass Sunstein of Bloomberg View writes, “It would be a mistake to take the fiasco as a reason to keep treasure troves of information out of the hands of people who can provide immensely valuable services with it.”

      In summary, it’s good (and presumably financially rewarding) to be a consultant, or something…

  17. SC says:

    I’m curious about the email systems referred to in the TV4 program this evening. Would, in theory, the NSA have the CA self-destructing emails? It seems possible, maybe even probable, that the NSA was hoovering CA during this period, no? If CA assumed that they couldn’t/wouldn’t get caught, those emails might be interesting.

    “…In one exchange Alexander Nix revealed the company used a secret self-destructing email system that leaves no trace. He said: “No-one knows we have it, and secondly we set our… emails with a self-destruct timer… So you send them and after they’ve been read, two hours later, they disappear. There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing.”

     

     

      • SpaceLifeForm says:

        Depends on what TS/SCI ‘program’ that they believe they are operating under. (yes, cryptic hint)

        What SC asked makes a huge assumption.
        The assumption is that NSA really did ‘collect it all’.

        It may have been collected, but also destroyed after the timeout (here, the example was 2 hours).

        The assumption that NSA can be trusted to actually do the 12333 info sharing, is just that, an assumption.

        SC also assumes that CA/SCL/FB is not an op.

        Until any TLA proves their worth, none can be trusted.

          • SpacelifeForm says:

            Absolutely. Nix does not get it.

            Just because ProtonMail will delete after being read does not prevent routers in between the ProtonMail servers and the user from intercepting the traffic (minimally, traffic analysis can identify the users). Even if both end users use ProtonMail, I do not see that the email is *not* decrypted at ProtonMail server side. Same applies to the ProtonMail Bridge.

            I Do not trust.

            Nix bought snake-oil.

            • Trip says:

              Supposedly, from the article, the timing to self-destruct does not start ‘after read’.  It is calculated from the time sent; read or not read.

              I had Proton mail, but figured it would be something that might actually create more interest from spooks, when I wasn’t trading classified or highly secret messages. So I really never used it. Also, if someone doesn’t also have an account, you have to give them a password to read it, if you send encrypted emails. So then how do you tell them, via phone? As if that is never swept up in collection.

              • SpaceLifeForm says:

                Yep, yep, yep.

                In order to really properly do secure comms with another person, you *MUST* meet with them in person and exchange your public keys in a secure manner.

                I guess both parties could trust an intermediary, but then both have to trust that person. See PGP keysigning.

                Note that the ProtonMail bridge allegedly uses PGP, but I see no procedure that forces the users to exchange keys offline.

                But consider this scenario.

                You have super important info that you know another person would find very useful in order to connect some dots. Dots that if connected would reveal serious criminal activity.

                But you and the other person have never met.
                In fact, the possibiity of meeting that person face to face is slim to none, because you live on different continents.

                And you do not even know of a possible trustable intermediary.

                This is the problem.

                This is why groklaw shutdown.

            • Dev Null says:

              @SLF: “I do not see that the email is *not* decrypted at ProtonMail server side”.

              I think you’re saying “The email is decrypted at ProtonMail server side” (on the basis of double negations canceling each other out.)

              If you meant something else, no need to read further.

              I read ProtonMail’s claims recently, and IIRC they say that the user private key is held by the user’s browser, not by ProtonMail.

              A service which promises to hold your private key secure, well …

              … I’m reminded of the old joke about the rhythm method of birth control:

              Q. What do doctors call women who use the rhythm method?

              A. “Mothers”.

              (Sorry if this is offensive to anyone here. I’ve thought about it and see no offense, but if I’m wrong, I am happy to be shown the error of my ways.)

              ProtonMail also claims to undergo periodic independent security audits, FWTW.

              I’m not suggesting that they’re invulnerable to snooping, but the combination of security audits with lack of access to users’ private keys seems “good as any; better than some.”

              Of course there are a gazillion ways for 3rd parties to exfil information from user browsers, but that’s a different matter.

              Again, happy to be edicated if I’m missing the point.

              EDIT: Ah, hadn’t read your second note. Point taken, but your initial claim seems questionable.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            The NSA collects without regard to borders.

            With regard to e-mail providers such as protonmail, the issue is not just what the government reads, but what the provider and those it contracts with reads.  By analogy, you could use Giggle, or you could use duckduckgo or ixquick.

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      ‘So you send them and after they’ve been read, two hours later, they disappear. There’s no evidence, there’s no paper trail, there’s nothing.”

      But, if one can receive the email and read it, they certainly can print it.

      There can actually be a paper trail, just not a readily available paper trail in a legal sense.

  18. harpie says:

    SCL – a Very British Coup Liam O Hare [3/20/18] on the deep connections between Cambridge Analytica’s parent company Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL Group)  and the Conservative Party and military establishment, ‘Board members include an array of Lords, Tory donors, ex-British army officers and defense contractors. This is scandal that cuts to the heart of the British establishment.’
    [quote] […] In 2005, SCL went public with a glitzy exhibit at the DSEI conference, the UK’s largest showcase for military technology.
    It’s ‘hard sell’ was a demonstration of how the UK government could use a sophisticated media campaign of mass deception to fool the British people into the thinking an accident at a chemical plant had occurred and threatened central London. Genuinely. […] [end quote]
    *
    To learn more about SCL at this 2005 conference, read this contemporaneous piece:
    *
    You Can’t Handle the Truth  Psy-ops propaganda goes mainstream; Sharon Weinberger SEPT. 19 2005 6:31 AM LONDON
    [quote] If SCL weren’t so earnest, it might actually seem to be mocking itself, or perhaps George Orwell. As the end of the smallpox scenario, dramatic music fades out to a taped message urging people to “embrace” strategic communications, which it describes as “the most powerful weapon in the world.” And the company Web page offers some decidedly creepy asides. “The [ops center] can override all national radio and TV broadcasts in time of crisis,” it says, alluding to work the company has done in an unspecified Asian country. […] [end quote]

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      From your first link:

      A freedom of information request from August 2016, shows that the MOD has twice bought services from Strategic Communication Laboratories in recent years.

      [Similar to US State Department]

      In addition, SCL also carries a secret clearance as a ‘list X’ contractor for the MOD. A List X site is a commercial site on British soil that is approved to hold UK government information marked as ‘confidential’ and above. Essentially, SCL got the green light to hold British government secrets on its premises.

      [Sounds like it won’t matter who does an audit or investigation. There will be no ‘evidence’ that can really be trusted. Missing evidence is the most likely outcome.]

      [‘confidential’ and above – WTF? Seriously? This is global fascism pure and simple]

      International deception and meddling is the name of the game for SCL. We finally have the most concrete evidence yet of shadowy actors using dirty tricks in order to rig elections. But these characters aren’t operating from Moscow intelligence bunkers.

      [No surprise. It’s the Ruskies! Not]

    • SpaceLifeForm says:

      Second link from 2005-09-19 ***note year***

      If SCL has its way, its vision of strategic communications—which involves complex psychological and scientific data—could be used to shape public response…

      [gee, like voting? /s ]

      “It sounds altruistic,” he said. “There is some altruism in it, but we also want to earn money.”

      [Yeah, no surprise about the money]

  19. harpie says:

    It’s been a long time since I’ve read the words “Martin Seligman” and “reverse-engineered” in the same article. Here they are not connected…necessarily…but a sense of vertigo, nonetheless:
    *
    The New Military-Industrial Complex of Big Data Psy-Ops; Tamsin Shaw; New York Review of Books; 3/21/18 
    [quote] Apparently, the age of the old-fashioned spook is in decline. What is emerging instead is an obscure world of mysterious boutique companies specializing in data analysis and online influence that contract with government agencies. […] [end quote]

    A good, but disconcerting read.
    OY!

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Excellent article by Tamsin Shaw.  Essential reading.  Includes bits on the post-WWII military and cia funding for social psychology in America, and its renewed funding starting about 1998, with Clinton’s emphasis on countering terrorism.  That was dramatically expanded after 9/11 under Bush/Cheney, and increased further with the development of “social” media.  She continues with Cambridge Analytica, the industry it is part of, and the dangers to democracy its work poses.

      Shaw is an historian and philosopher, now at NYU, formerly at Cambridge University.  Her website includes her most recent articles, including the one you cite, and some interesting earlier ones.

      The dichotomy Shaw addresses is between viewing people as having agency, rational actors with subjective emotions, or as subjects manipulable by those sufficiently sophisticated in the dark art corners of social psychology – with sufficient access to the vast troves of data made available by “social” media. 

      The former is individually therapeutic and socially positive.  The latter poses severe problems for democracy and democratic values. Billionaire manipulators like the Kochs and Mercers, and nation-state military and intelligence services will predictably emphasis the latter. It is up to people to counter that for their own well-being.

      • harpie says:

        Thanks for the link, Earl. I just read the April 2016 discussion between Shaw and Seligman…so, it’s related to today’s piece.

        In a way, Seligman seems analogous to Mark Zuckerberg.

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