Whistleblower Christopher Wylie testifies in UK

Christopher Wiley, who came forward with claims about use of Facebook data by Cambridge Analytica, testified before a British committee on Tuesday.

Christopher Wylie deposed before the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMS) in London amid an escalating row around alleged Facebook data breaches linked with the controversial UK-based company, which has also been linked with alleged attempts to influence elections in India.

It said that had deleted the data and added that "Christopher Wylie was a part-time contractor who left in July 2014 and has no direct knowledge of our work or practices since that date". However Ovleno's site had listed the BJP, the Congress and a regional party known as the Janata Dal (United) among its clients.

Union minister for electronics and IT Ravi Shankar Prasad said on late Tuesday that the revelations by Wylie "vindicated" BJP's allegations that the Congress used Cambridge Analytica's services. He tweeted a picture containing the firm's "past national experience", pointing to various elections in which political parties employed SCL's caste research and analysis.

The committee was also hearing testimony by an IT expert, Paul Olivier Dehaye, who alleged that Wylie's predecessor, who was murdered in Kenya, was working for Congress but also getting "paid by an Indian Billionaire who actually wanted Congress to lose".

A July 2014 memo described by The New York Times indicates Cambridge Analytica's attorney Lawrence Levy warned top firm officials, including Rebekah Mercer, Stephen Bannon and company CEO Alexander Nix, that foreigners were prohibited from providing high-level advice to USA candidates. It is curious why, after such a long and successful run, they did no work in India after 2012, especially with a big election season in 2013-14.

He said, "I believe their client was Congress".

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One said that he remembers a mix of employees from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States working for the company on behalf of USA campaigns. "But they do have offices there, they do have staff there", the 28-year-old had said.

Social media platforms which collaborate with the Election Commission will now have to follow a "code of conduct" to ensure that their user data remains protected from manipulation which could adversely affect elections.

Wylie told MPs that it was "incredibly reasonable" to assume that marketing software used by Cambridge Analytica contributed to the Leave campaign's victory.

According to Wylie, a third-party app for Facebook called "thisisyourdigitallife" was created by Aleksandr Kogan, a professor at the University of Cambridge, purportedly for collecting data for academic purposes.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT on Wednesday issued a notice to Facebook seeking its response on whether the personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised by Cambridge Analytica. "I believe I have some documentation on India which I can also provide to the committee if that's something of interest", he said.

Mr Wylie said of AggregateIQ: "This is a company that has worked with hacked material, this is a company that will send out videos of people being murdered to intimidate voters, this is a company that goes out and tries to illicitly acquire live internet browsing data of everyone in an entire country".

  • Carolyn Briggs