Whistleblower alleges data misuse in Brexit campaign

The building housing the Cambridge Analytica office is seen in central London March 23, 2018. — Reuters pic
The building housing the Cambridge Analytica office is seen in central London March 23, 2018. — Reuters pic

LONDON, April 17 — Britons’ personal data may have been misused by a pro-Brexit campaign ahead of the 2016 referendum that voted for leaving the European Union, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who worked with the Leave.EU group told MPs today.

Brittany Kaiser, who stopped working for the British political consultancy in March, said she suspected that data was being shared between businesses owned by Arron Banks, a major funder of Leave.EU, and the campaign for the 2016 EU referendum.

“I now think that there is reason to believe that misuse of data was rife amongst the businesses and campaigns of Arron Banks,” Kaiser said in a statement to MPs to accompany her testimony in front of a British parliamentary committee.

“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,” she said.

Her claims were denied by Leave.EU as “fake news” and Banks asked for the chance to testify before the committee. 

Kaiser, who worked at Cambridge Analytica for four years, said she had similar concerns about consent to the use of data from members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the Brexit campaign.

Kaiser, Cambridge Analytica’s former business development director, said she met regularly with representatives of Leave.EU, UKIP and Eldon Insurance over a period of five months as she worked on a sales pitch to win a contract with Leave.EU.

She said the purpose of her work was to use data “so that we could find the different personality types of individuals who were most likely to engage with the messaging”.

Cambridge Analytica issued a statement earlier this month saying it “did not work at all” on the Brexit referendum.

“We pitched Leave.EU, Vote Leave and Remain but did not work paid or unpaid for any of these entities. We had discussions with UKIP but these discussions never resulted in a contract.

“In the end, we were not involved in the referendum in any capacity,” the statement said. — AFP

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