Friday 28 February, 2020

T&T's link to Cambridge Analytica scandal

The Cambridge Analytica scandal has dominated international headlines over the past few days.

But, what do we know about Cambridge Analytica and its alleged involvement with Trinidad and Tobago?

Accused of using massive amounts of data on 50 million Facebook users to formulate political advertising on the Donald Trump election campaign, Cambridge Analytica is the company at the centre of a personal data scandal.

Trinidad and Tobago, under the People's Partnership government, is alleged to have engaged the services of the company: allegations which have been dismissed by the Opposition Leader. An audit has since been launched by the Government in a bid to determine if these claims are true.

LoopTT takes a look at the allegations linking this country to the controversial company.

1. Firm allegedly hired by former minister to harvest the data of T&T’s population

On Tuesday, Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower Christopher Wylie alleged that in 2013 AggregateIQ (AIQ), a company set up alongside Cambridge Analytica worked on a project in T&T for a former National Security minister, which involved attempting to harvest the data of the population.

Wylie made the allegation as he appeared in front of UK lawmakers.

The Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower said the project involved accessing raw internet service provider data for the entire country, to monitor what people were browsing.

2. Firm cites UNC’s popular 2010 ‘Do So’ campaign as one of its case studies

The Cambridge Analytica’s website cites the UNC’s ‘Do So’ campaign as one of its case studies, saying the company’s methods resulted in the People’s Partnership’s election victory.

According to Cambridge Analytica, the employment of the company’s research-based differential campaigns and establishment of consistent policy and variegated communications contributed to the People’s Partnership’s Coalition’s landslide victory in 2010.

It said it consequently supported the government coalition with ongoing advice.

3. Firm reportedly helped a candidate by emblazoning graffiti slogans around T&T

According to a Bloomberg report, the company-SCL Group, the British affiliate of the Cambridge Analytica firm helped a candidate in Trinidad and Tobago.

The work was reportedly done for the United National Congress.

The Bloomberg article reported that in sales documents given to prospective clients, the SCL Group said it helped a candidate in Trinidad in 2010 by emblazoning graffiti slogans around the island that ostensibly was posted by young Trinidadians.

The SCL added that the client was then able to claim credit for listening to a ‘united youth.’

4) Firm allegedly did political work in 2013 for COP at a cost of $200,000 US

According to another report by the CBC News, AIQ’s first contract with the SCL was in 2013, for political work in Trinidad and Tobago with the Congress of the People (COP).

The SCL was reportedly hired by several government ministers in T&T.

AIQ’s job allegedly was to create a constituent relationship management system, or CRM, which would allow the party to manage and communicate with its supporters.

As part of the job, AIQ was tasked with harvesting browsing history, social media data and IP addresses that could be linked to home addresses or census data.

For this they reportedly got paid $200,000 US.


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