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More than 87m Facebook profiles farmed, says second ex-Cambridge Analytica witness
Plus: Former CEO snubs MPs
The number of Facebook users whose data was compromised via quizzes "is much greater than 87 million", Cambridge Analytica's former director of program development has told MPs.
In written evidence (PDF) to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Brittany Kaiser wrote: "Cambridge Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were involved in these activities."
Asked by committee chair Damian Collins if the purpose of getting users to complete surveys was to gather information, she said: "I believe that was the point of the quizzes in the first place, yes."
She told the committee that the company created its own quizzes to access users' data, including a "sex compass" quiz – meaning more data could have been gathered on individuals than previously thought.
Earlier this month, Facebook said that the data of up to 87 million people was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica, an increase on the estimate of 50 million by former CA employee turned whistleblower Chris Wylie. However, Cambridge Analytica has disputed the 87 million figure.
In written evidence submitted to MPs, Kaiser said: "I am not a data scientist, and I never handled Cambridge Analytica's data models or any significant datasets myself."
I was asked by [CEO Alexander Nix and CFO/COO Julian Wheatland] to take the lead on contract negotiations. I believe this is because, as upper class Brits, they did not want to front up the deal with [UKIP donor and Leave.EU co-founder Arron Banks] themselves. Banks was excited to discover my background with the Obama campaign.
"I have been shocked by the testimony to this committee on this topic and the growing number of reports about how Facebook data was abused by Alexander Kogan, Global Science Research and Cambridge Analytica without users' consent, and even more shocked about Facebook's own failures to protect their users' data."
During the three-hour hearing, Collins revealed that former Cambridge Analytica chief exec Alexander Nix, who had been due to appear before MPs tomorrow, had cancelled his appearance.
"His legal representation has said that he's now not able to give evidence to the committee tomorrow, as a consequence of him having been served an information notice, and being subject to a criminal investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office."
He said the committee was considering a formal summons for Nix.
Work for Leave.EU
In her written submission, Kaiser said she believed there was reason to believe that misuse of data was rife among the businesses and campaigns of Arron Banks.
"If the personal data of UK citizens who just wanted to buy car insurance was used by [Banks' businesses] 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. I have similar concerns about whether UKIP members consented to the use of their data."
She told MPs she had seen "evidence from my own eyes of possible breaches of the Data Protection Act" concerning the usage of personal and commercial data of individuals in the Eldon Insurance database and possibly the UKIP database "being used for the benefit of the Leave.EU campaign".
The Leave.EU campaign has denied this and we have asked it for further comment.
Kaiser joined Cambridge Analytica in 2014 and left the company in January this year. She told MPs that she was not privy to high-level decision making, and that her role was more a "glorified saleswoman; I never held a company directorship".
The company completed a first phase of work for Leave.EU for £41,500, but was not commissioned to do more in-depth analysis – for which it had hoped to make up to £801,000. Kaiser claimed the company had not been paid for the initial phase of work, which used UKIP data and was billed to UKIP. ®