back to article Cambridge Analytica's daddy biz had 'routine access' to UK secrets

Cambridge Analytica's parent biz had "routine access to UK secret information" as part of training it offered to the UK's psyops group, according to documents released today. A letter, published as part of a cache handed over to MPs by whisteblower Chris Wylie, details work that Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh moment....

    ...maybe someone wants to see what the likes of Acxiom & Epsilon get up to while were at it.

    Or is it just we are targeting one or two and pretending there are not are a few thousand others doing exactly the same sort of thing.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Indeed

      It may be that this case is a bit borderline, but the real question is whether or not one should accept that presidential candidates should have the right to analyse and profile citizen's beliefs in the first place. The means to do so come second.

      Personally, I think a candidate should run on what he thinks, not on what he thinks people would like him to think.

      But that's just me.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Indeed

        It reminds me (of an oft-performed line) "I know what I believe, but if you don't like it, I can believe in a lot of other things as well"

      2. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: Indeed

        You are not alone in this sentiment. I have wished for that for quite a while, and suspect there are quite a few others. The most recent US example seems to be Ronald Reagan, a third of a century back, although Clinton #1 showed some inclination. For roughly the last 50 years, though, the major parties and their candidates seem to have drunk the Kool-Aid of the pollsters and advertisers to the point where they believe they cannot win election except by pandering to the least informed, selfish, and prejudiced of the electorate.

        Candidates of the better class can be found among the Libertarians, Greens, Socialist Workers, Natural Law and others, minor parties all, with no chance of winning a national election, although one or another occasionally wins a state or local office.

      3. itzman

        Re: Indeed

        The reality is that its not a question of faux news and real news, because everything that reaches the electorate is tailored and targeted to win.

        Except for a brief time, social networking and other internet sources. The powers that be have been playing catchup here, and are just about in the position of having it all buttoned down.

        Now it is extensively astroturfed, and anything 'off message' is taken down as 'hate speech' or racist' or whatever emotional knee jerk term they have managed to gain traction with.

        No government wants free speech or democracy. Far too much chance..

        #

  2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Well, I have been saying this for the last 5 days

    This was not that difficult to guess. In fact it was bleeding obvious that this is the case (including the amount of spanners thrown into the ICO works).

    In fact, the information that it is List X cleared has already been made public towards the end of last week.

    The more interesting bit would be how much of it was found by the ICO on the premises and how much was successfully removed as a part of what is usually referred to as "perverting the course of justice".

    1. K Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Well, I have been saying this for the last 5 days

      Lets face it.. with that volume of data, none of it would be on site. It would be held in non-assuming data-centre somewhere, ownership nicely shrouded in obscure outsourcing contracts and access enabled via a vpn... which was discreetly disconnected and the routing tables cleared.

      Now if only their traffic logs could be obtained from their ISP traffics logs.... dam

      Oh wait, perhaps there is https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/investigatory-powers-bill

      but I bet it never gets used for this type of case (where it can actually be used in the public interest..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well, I have been saying this for the last 5 days

        but I bet it never gets used for this type of case (where it can actually be used in the public interest

        Of course not. Old Etonian founds tech outfit, forges links with old boy network, gains List X accreditation, helps establishment chums.....

        Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Well, I have been saying this for the last 5 days

          Of course not. Old Etonian

          You are aiming too low. Aim higher - read the SCL board of directors list.

      2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Well, I have been saying this for the last 5 days

        Firstly the idea that the data was to big to fit in the office has been roundly thrashed multiple times be people with more experience with large databases than me. As an example, years ago I read that Google kept a fixed size record of 128KB per user because that is the maximum Intel DMA hardware could move in a single command and it kept things simple. 50million times 128KB is 6.4TB so two cost effective spinning disks, or one slightly overpriced one. That is OK for a backup, but for a live system you would want flash. You can get ten times that on a single PCIe card if you can justify the cost. Space is not an issue unless you have a ten minute high def compromising video on most of the 50 million.

        Even if that is the case, the database is not the only evidence of interest. There could have been evidence that they collected the data legally for a specific purpose. There could have been correspondence showing what the data was used for, perhaps beyond what the three people who read the privacy policy expected. There could be records of sales data without restrictions on use.

        Do you really believe the Cambridge Analytica executives were terrified of the ICO drinking their tea.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well, I have been saying this for the last 5 days

      If they can play the national security card, they can pervert the course of justice as much as they want.

      :/

  3. Pier Reviewer

    [quote]

    The letter went on to say that, since delivery, SCL has continued to support the group "without additional charge to the MoD", which involved "further testing of the trained product on operations in Libya and Afghanistan".

    [/quote]

    Interesting that they did additional work for free. It seems to suggest they valued access to certain data the work gave them. What’s the betting they were attempting to “win hearts and minds”*?

    If you’re looking to sell to the private sector, having a military contract always helps.

    * I think the alternative spelling is “propaganda”

    1. Aqua Marina

      "Interesting that they did additional work for free."

      It's basic sales technique into large organisations that buy big, and move slowly. Ensure that your customer is using the tools correctly, efficiently, and more importantly, all the time! Several months onsite support drilling the use of your product into people, and the product becomes mandatory. Decades of follow up sales to follow.

  4. Danny 2 Silver badge

    No Comment

    Cambridge Analytica tweeted, "Cambridge Analytica subcontracted some digital marketing and software development to Aggregate IQ in 2014 and 2015."

    AggregateIQ released a statement, "AggregateIQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica."

    They are mutually exclusive claims, unforced lies. C'mon boys, get your story straight before putting your foot in your mouth and shooting yourself in the foot.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      No Comment other than the Question? Is AI, the Next Second Coming?

      Does Cambridge Analytica have Many Contracts to Tender for Greater IntelAIgent Game Plays?

      And/Or are any Contracts out to Tender for Greater IntelAIgent Games Plays with the AIDevil in the Heavenly Detailing ...... In Hot Pursuit of Immaculate Perfection.

      Whom would one Ping for Accurate Info on the Present Current State of Abysmal Play in Base Sectors with Earthly Retreats for Arresting Assets. Speakeasy Cat House Territory WareFare there to Feed to Grow.:-)

      Proprietary Intellectual Property to be Experienced to Be Believed is the ACID BetaTest for Universal Services Provision with ITs Realisation of it in Main Streaming Media Tales Trialing Enlightened Trails.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No Comment

      They are not mutually exclusive.

      Great Scott, do you think there would be written contracts?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you're already dead you have nothing to fear.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If you're already dead you have nothing to fear.

      Wasn't that the the whole point of 'Hell' ?

      That even Death wouldn't release you from your Karma, so to speak?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "further testing of the trained product on operations in Libya and Afghanistan"

    Hearts and minds, shock and awe?

    Tell me how are they doing with that? I mean it's not like any of them are coming to Europe and committing atrocities against people that have no control over what their governments do in their name.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I mean it's not like any of them are coming to Europe and committing atrocities against people that have no control over what their governments do in their name.

      Who benefits from radicalised natives travelling to Europe, for the most part actually being allowed in, and then causing mayhem?

      Who gets bigger budgets, more staff, less oversight, more political protection? The only way I can see that we could be worse off would be if they made that obnoxious little shit Smeagol Gove home secretary.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Smeagol Gove

        Come on, Smeagol told the truth at least sometimes. Do not promote GoveNoccio please.

        There is a major issue of trust with the current lot. If the UK public does not see it, the rest of the world does. We should never be in a position where the question of "is the UK government saying the truth" vs "is it lying" results in 13:87 opinion poll split in an allied country (I am not going to say which one - this is from this week).

        We keep forgetting that the biggest and best weapon against the Eastern Block propaganda machine was the truth.

        Where the f*** is it? Dead. Buried. 6 feet under with a stake through its heart and a band of pathological liars doing a Morris dance on the grave.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Truth is in the eye of the beer holder.

          1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            I thought that was beauty?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Once drunk other possibilities expose them selves, see: neo-taoism

              1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge
                Pint

                I drink, there for I am.

                I drunk, therefore I was.

            2. ecofeco Silver badge

              It may be beauty, but it does depends on your beer goggles.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who benefits....

        ...from radicalised natives travelling to Europe, for the most part actually being allowed in, and then causing mayhem?

        Those nice chaps with towels on their heads?

        Who own most of our banks, and nearly all of our debt?

  7. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    The Thot Plickens

    ... and that title makes more sense that anything else we seem to be told - officially.

  8. JakeMS
    Thumb Up

    This just gets..

    Better and better doesn't it?

    What next?

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: This just gets better and better

      What next, JakeMS? Any Valid Objection to Overwhelming Almighty AIRevolution Running Beta Quantum Communications Systems for Remote Practically Virtual Anonymous Autonomous Command and Control of Leading Universal Added Value Ventures ?

      Are You Working on Something/Anything Similar ...... and BetaTesting Everything Available Future Made?

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This just gets..

      My exact thoughts!

      I think if this investigation were to be allowed to go all the way down the Rabbit hole

      we would lose Alice long before we reached the bottom (or TOP as it now seems to be heading).

      Disgusting.

  9. Roland6 Silver badge

    So does this potentially mean that the UK taxpayer actually funded Cambridge Analytica's QC's in their recent case against the ICO?

  10. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    SCL has continued to support the group "without additional charge to the MoD"

    Translation: The MoD became part of the product and nobody told them.

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      TS/SCI Strictly Need and Feed to Know Seed .... COSMIC Source

      Translation: The MoD became part of the product and nobody told them. .... Doctor Syntax

      Not at all unrealistic, Doctor Syntax, with Surreal Hummer Dinger Evidence of Future Shenanigans Soliciting All Manners of Streets for Pleasure with Supply of Support for a AIMagical Feeds and a Sowing of Sprouting Seeds ....... A Prime Primary Vital AI Life Force ...... with Super Special Secret Stealth Services ..... laying secure trails featuring Prize Protection with Happy Easter Eggs.

      And there you probably were, thinking the Military AIMinded somewhat Anachronistic and Prehistoric. Could you have been any wronger?

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        Re: TS/SCI Strictly Need and Feed to Know Seed .... COSMIC Source

        And here is a soft option for fans into the ways of phishing, which be uncool cats madly copying proprietary intellectual property which it may very well not fully understand enough to directly led with command and control, freely shared copyleft in the ..... well, IT would be with AI, a somewhat Novel Contested Space Place? Talking the talk is nowhere near the same as walking the walk, and to do the former without the latter reveals a whole flotilla of vessels with no effective weapons systems for either attack or defence .... and thus is really stupid and crazy move.

        A thriving UK cyber security sector is a key national security and prosperity aim as set out in our five-year National Cyber Security Strategy.

        The Government is committed to making the UK one of the most secure places in the world to do business, and cyber space is an important and expanding part of our economy. The UK is dedicated to working with all states to develop a common understanding of the benefits of a free, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace.

        The world is experiencing an unprecedented transformation as relationships between organisations and their customers and stakeholders take place in increasingly digitised environments.

        The rapid rise in disruptive digital technologies inevitably exposes system vulnerabilities, as seen in recent high-profile cyber attacks on large businesses and public organisations.

        This new reality poses huge challenges as businesses and organisations evaluate urgent investment decisions in a fast-changing world where tomorrow’s technology hasn’t been invented yet.

        The accelerated pace of digital change brings a great opportunity to promote the UK’s cyber security expertise to international markets. Robust export control regimes will ensure that human rights are a key part of the process.

        Exporting to existing and new markets will help build a Britain that is fit for the future.

        This strategy sets out how the UK Government will strengthen support to world-leading British firms with innovative offers emerging from the nation’s vibrant cyber security ecosystem. .... The Rt Hon Dr Liam Fox MP Secretary of State for International Trade and President of the Board of Trade .... Cyber Security Export Strategy>

        Does all of that lead the MOD to be competing against and even fighting the Department of International Trade as the one tries to further develop and export the Top Secret Sensitive Compartmented Information of the other?

        The Cyber Security Export Strategy is certainly an engaging read with all manner of fantastic offers floated for CyberIntelAIgent Predominance in the Critical Infrastructure Space

  11. Potemkine! Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    It's dead Jim

    Military involved?

    Ok, end of the game, everybody moves on, now!

  12. ecofeco Silver badge

    Didn't we fight a war against this?

    What... fascism? Naw. Can't be.

  13. Robert D Bank

    Someone tell me...

    What data does 'List X' status actually give access to? With outfits like CA aggregating that with all the other data given/taken unwittingly, perhaps including Equifax and myriad other leaked/stolen data and whatnot, they've probably filled a lot of gaps in the Gov't's beloved Preston database, which contains financial and phone/email records of millions over 15+ years, but also 'may include, but is not limited to, personal information such as an individual’s religion, racial or ethnic origin, political views, ... medical condition, sexual orientation, or any legally privileged, journalistic or otherwise confidential information.".

    https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/12/16/big_brother_born_ntac_gchq_mi5_mass_surveillance_data_slurping/

    This really sucks.

    So potentially all our personal data could, or has already become a commercial product. And you think the availability of that level of private information doesn't give these wankers the ability to twist anyone's arms that they or the 'client' want. FO.

  14. Robert D Bank

    George Monbiot warned of this way back in March 2017:

    http://www.monbiot.com/2017/03/08/use-it-or-lose-it/

    and referenced this which in turn references events as far back as 2013. This article is a terrifying read, it really is.

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: George Monbiot warned of this

      And was right except in one respect.

      It was George Monbiot and his EU chums and the establishment remain campaign who perverted democracy. "Project Fear " was a complete disgrace and the most frightening exercise of state power and propganda I have ever seen in my entire life.

      The New Left are the people they warned you about.

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