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Cambridge researchers behind Facebook data breach speaks up



Aleksandr Kogan, Cambridge University researcher who collected information about millions of Americans via Facebook, said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's testimony to Capitol Hill legislators was "misleading."

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In a live interview with ABC chief anchor George Stephanopoulos On "Good Morning America," Kogan responded to Zuckerberg's allegation that he violated Facebook by sharing data with a third party, Cambridge Analytica.

"I think they are a bit misleading," Kogan told Stephanopoulos on Monday. "The idea that this was a hack is wrong."

He continued, "Imagine a warehouse: we did not intervene ̵

1; we went to Amazon and ordered the data, and they delivered it to us, which is a key feature of their system."

In March, Kogan was at the center of a burgeoning scandal after Cambridge Analytica's former associate Christopher Wylie told the New York Times that Kogan had data collected in 2014 through an app with the controversial political research firm Knowledge shared by the users.

In an interview with ABC News last month, Wylie said he was distrustful of Koga's work because of the researcher's Russian roots and connections.

"I think it's really about … the head psychologist we used, Aleksandr Kogan, working on a Russian-funded project on psychological profiling of people in Russia," Wylie said.

Kogan denied allegations that he was acting on behalf of Russia and said, "I think much of me is xenophobic nonsense, to be honest, I had a loose connection with a university and went and lectured, but nothing more. "

"Most Russians, like most Americans, are normal, decent people [and] have nothing to do with spycraft," Kogan added.

Kogan, 31, was born in Moldova – then a Soviet state – and emigrated with his family to the US when he was seven years old and eventually settled in New Jersey. He graduated in 2008 with honors from UC Berkley with a degree in psychology, the University ABC News confirmed. Later, he held an honorary professorship at the St. Petersburg State University in Russia, which he said would involve two or three trips to the university.

When asked if he had anything to do with Russian interference in the US election, he replied, "I think it is, frankly, an absurd assertion that has no support and absolutely not."

Facebook and Cambridge Analytica are both facing investigations by federal agencies in the US and UK, and were invited to appear before Congress and Parliament to answer questions from government officials.

When Kogan was asked if people had the right to be angry about the break, he said, "Oh, absolutely, but I think it has nothing to do with this transfer of the data idea."

"I think it's all about how technology companies have been working with data for a long time," Kogan argued, "because we'll use the basic business model here and use your data no matter how we try things for you for sale, and that's just the business norm, and I think that's really annoying. "

According to Kogan, Wylie turned to him in 2014 to adapt his original app developed for academic research to give Cambridge Analytica access to the data of millions of Facebook users. Kogan said Wylie and lawyers at Cambridge Analytica's parent company SCL assured him that the app could be adapted for commercial use without violating the Facebook rules.

Cambridge Analytica was supported by the Trump campaign prior to the 2016 election, and the investigation of this relationship led to the revelations that brought Kogan and Wylie back into the limelight.

Facebook has suspended Cambridge Analytica and Kogan from the platform to investigate violations of millions of user profiles. Cambridge Analytica has denied any wrongdoing and accused Kogan of violating Facebook's privacy policy, while Kogan claims that both companies treat it as "unfair".

Both Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign have indicated that the Facebook data obtained at this time was not used as part of the data company's work on behalf of the campaign. In a statement released before Sunday's interview with Kogan on CBS '"60 Minutes", the company said it deleted the data on Facebook's request and never shared it with another party.

Facebook's Zuckerberg has been answering questions from lawmakers for two days earlier this month on the Facebook User Data Policy, which could not stop the violation.

Now it's Kogan's turn. He will ask questions from Members of Parliament at a hearing on Tuesday.


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