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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Tales continue to unfold about Cambridge Analytica’s role

An image from Cambridge Analytica's Twitter page: The

An image from Cambridge Analytica's Twitter page: The company filed for bankruptcy protection last month. Credit: Twitter

The battered Cambridge Analytica company, first financed by Long Island’s Mercer family, filed for bankruptcy protection last month in New York.

But despite its Chapter 7 move, initiated by majority shareholders Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer, the entity’s unique doings at the intersection of technology and right-wing messaging remain under public review in the U.S. and the U.K.

Billionaire Robert Mercer, the siblings’ father, has for years been contributing generously to what are generally deemed to be conservative causes, and the interests here are political.

The company amassed personal data on tens of millions of Facebook users, raising major privacy issues for Mark Zuckerberg’s company that are still roiling.

Cambridge personnel and resources helped candidate Donald Trump here and the Brexit campaign in England.

New stories about the firm keep surfacing.

Cambridge’s parent, a defense and intelligence contractor called SCL Group, conducted a big population study for the government of Saudi Arabia, which subsequently undertook steps to liberalize some aspects of life in the kingdom.

According to The New York Times, the United Arab Emirates also hired SCL to conduct a social media campaign against rival Qatar.

Last week, it was reported that one of Cambridge Analytica’s directors appeared to have visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuador embassy in London where he’s been dodging Swedish sex-crimes-related charges for years.

According to The Guardian, the director, Brittany Kaiser, told friends she visited Assange in 2017 to discuss the American election the year before. Specifics are sparse, but Congress and Parliament were examining her role, the news site said.

WikiLeaks, of course, obtained and published hacked Democratic Party emails that embarrassed the Hillary Clinton campaign and led Trump to declare “I love WikiLeaks.”

Meanwhile, former Cambridge employee Christopher Wylie told members of the European Parliament: “I do not believe Brexit would have happened if it were not for the data-targeting technologies and network of actors set up by Cambridge Analytica.

“I also do not believe the Brexit result was won fairly or legitimately,” he asserted. “Cambridge Analytica may have dissolved, but the European Union and its citizens will feel the impact for a generation.”

Where his claim may go next is unclear. Brexit leader Nigel Farage, a Trump supporter, has insisted Cambridge Analytica did not have a major role in Trump’s campaign, and almost no involvement in Brexit. During 2016, ex-Trump aide Steve Bannon was involved in the company’s data efforts.


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