Government Seeks Information From Facebook on Data Leak

A videographer shoots the side of Facebo

Political data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, reported to have links to the Trump campaign, has collected personal information from 50 million Facebook profiles without their permission in 2014, according to a New York Times report.

Facebook is overhauling its privacy controls in response to the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, which has wiped some $100 billion (£700 million) from its market value.

"I have had to explain and re-explain and re-explain and re-explain, you know, how relational databases work, what is an eigenvector, what is dimensionality reduction", Wylie said.

At the beginning of Wylie's testimony to the House of Commons Digital, Culture and Sport Committee, chairman Damian Collins said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had not accepted an invitation to give evidence, suggesting that the company's chief product officer, Chris Cox, speak in his stead. "But they do have offices there, they do have staff there", the 28-year-old added, on being probed further.

Among allegations made by Wylie was the suggestion that Vote Leave, one of the main campaigns that pushed for Brexit, may have broken Britain's electoral rules that went beyond existing concerns around spending infractions, over the role that AIQ, a Canadian based firm played in the campaign.

A Romanian employee of Cambridge Analytica (CA), who worked on its project in India, may have been "poisoned" in Kenya, an ex-employee has told a British parliamentary select committee. However, in another twist, personal data protection expert Paul-Olivier Dehaye, who was also giving evidence before British lawmakers, revealed that an Indian billionaire paid SCL Group to ensure that Congress lost the elections.

He said that he had some documentation on CA's involvement in India and offered to share it with the committee.

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"But apparently, he was paid for by an Indian billionaire, who actually wanted the Congress to lose", he added.

For example, Wylie says Cambridge Analytica sent videos featuring people who were "dismembered, had their throats cut, bled to death in a ditch, and burnt alive" to intimidate Nigerian voters. European Parliament has said that it will investigate this matter.

Taking a snap over his statements, Bharatiya Janata Party immediately raised calls for an apology from Congress President Rahul Gandhi. "The nation demands an answer!"

During a lengthy session in which MPs from across the political spectrum on the culture, media and sport (DCMS) committee quizzed Wylie, he provided a snapshot of the work carried out by the firms, now in the spotlight, highlighting how data captured enabled them to build up psychological profiles of individuals who would be particularly susceptible to forms of certain tactics. This vindicates what we have been saying from day one.

Minutes later, Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala vehemently denied all such charges and accused Ravi Shankar Prasad of lying and challenged the government to register a First Information Report (FIR) against Cambridge Analytica, its Indian partner Ovleno Business Intelligence and Facebook.

Cambridge Analytica downplayed its past association with Wylie, writing in a statement that the whistleblower's testimony amounted to "false information, speculation, and completely unfounded conspiracy theories".

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