Cambridge Analytica, the disgusting data company that led the Trump's digital strategy and solved the recent Facebook issues, was reportedly about to enter a darker business: digital currencies. According to a former Cambridge employee, the proposed token will give people more control over their personal information.
Brittany Kaiser left Cambridge Analytica in February and left just in time. In March, news came that the company had illegally acquired data from millions of Facebook users from a third-party developer and integrated it into its political strategy business. Since then, undercover videos of journalists have shown that executives offer their clients election services that include blackmail and entrapment. The CEO, Alexander Nix, was suspended, and on Tuesday he rescued from a scheduled appearance in front of the British Parliament. CEO Alexander Tayler resigned last week. Now Kaiser tells her story.
The New York Times conducts interviews with Kaiser and sees internal documents related to the company's plans to launch its own initial offer of coins. From the Report:
Cambridge Analtica's own digital token was designed to help people save and sell their personal online data, Brittany Kaiser, a former voter-profiling company employee, said in an interview. The goal was to more or less protect this data from what the company did when it obtained the personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users.
Cambridge Analytica began working with coin deals in the middle of last year. The company was led by Ms. Kaiser, an American who led the company's business development and previously appeared at a press event with organizers of the "Brexit" campaign to bring Britain out of the European Union.
Cambridge Analytica boasts that "psychographic profiles" of voters and consumers enable more compelling and targeted advertising. In marketing material sent to investors, the company said it "would help Blockchain companies use predictive modeling to attract investors for symbolic sales."
Yes, the company that has become the figurehead of data breaches has been the ideal pioneer for blockchain-centered privacy. The logic is as if you were hiring a sequel to bank robbers or electing a president because they claim to have politically bribed politicians for decades. As Kaiser put it in the Times "Who knows more about the use of personal information than Cambridge Analytica?"
It's unclear how this particular project would work, but that's not so unusual in the world of ICOs. According to the research firm Autonomous, more than $ 6 billion went to the ICOs in 2017, and separate research suggests that 59 percent of the projects are dead or die.
Of course, the goals of the company are not wholly unselfish. The Times spoke to Jill Carlson, a consultant working with Blockchain companies, claiming she had pitch meetings with Cambridge Execs. She said she got worried when they mentioned a plan to get people in Mexico to make surveys by using the virtual currency as payment. The company would then use the data collected to develop election campaign strategies in Mexico. "The way in which Cambridge Analytica talked about it was seen as a means to bring about basically government control and private corporate control over individuals," Carlson said.
Much like the open, exchange-oriented Internet culture that Facebook grew and ruined, the blockchain wave is rooted in idealism and sunny predictions over distributed networks. Cambridge Analytica is a reminder that there will always be a series of scumbags waiting to spoil the good intentions of all.
[Reuters, New York Times]