Cambridge Analytica, the controversial firm that helped Donald Trump become the President of the United States, has also done work in Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and is in the process of "moving into Brazil" reports from British broadcaster Channel 4 and Bloomberg have revealed. The Political consultancy has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks after Facebook suspended it for violating Facebook's privacy policies.
In a secretly recorded meeting with a journalist posing as a potential client, one of the firm’s executive boasts told Channel 4 about their experience in political campaign affirming they analyze vast amounts of personal data to know “who to target and with what message… We’ve done it in Mexico,” he said.
The firm’s tactics go well beyond data gathering and analysis. Cambridge Analytica boss Alexander Nix is seen in the video plainly speaking of his firm's use of entrapments tactics, such as sending “somebody posing as a wealthy developer” to speak to incumbents, or “some girls around to a candidate’s house” and produce instant evidence of corruption or scandalous behaviour by filming the exchanges.
Mexico’s presidential and legislative elections will be held on July 2018. However, the General Attorney’s office specialized in electoral crimes has not launched any investigations yet arguing they “require someone to file a complaint” to investigate.
In Argentina, authorities are not waiting for an official request, and the National Electoral Chamber of the judicial branch has opened an investigation to find evidence of Cambridge Analytica’s work in the country.
Promotional materials unearthed by Bloomberg also revealed that firm launched a partnership with Pig.gi, a Spanish-language, Android-only phone app that prompted users to view advertisements and to read sponsored stories in exchange for free internet access and call minutes. The partnership according to the materials seemed designed to target persons in Mexico and Colombia.
Brittany Kaiser, Cambridge's vice president, told Bloomberg last year that the company was transparently designed to influence the votes of younger Mexicans. The app reportedly had 200,000 users as of last year.
“Pig.gi has already been hugely successful in Mexico and Colombia," now-embattled CEO Alexander Nix announced last year via a news release. "We’re thrilled to be partnering with the app so that their partners can get the right message to the right people at the right time."
“Pig.gi has already been hugely successful in Mexico and Colombia," CEO Alexander Nix announced last year via a news release. "We’re thrilled to be partnering with the app so that their partners can get the right message to the right people at the right time."
Both Mexico and Colombia will hold presidential elections this year.
“Early Monday, as soon as the scandal broke worldwide, it was instructed to the body of auditors and the corresponding offices that deal with party funding to look if the aforementioned company appears in some of the last presidential and legislative elections,” an official source told El Pais.
This task will prove difficult given that, as mentioned in the video, the company does not use its name to contract.
In the secret video, one of the firm’s executives says “we’re now moving into Brazil.” Brazilians will also head to the polls this year, in October.
According to Reuters, prosecutors for Brazil’s Federal District said in a statement they would look into whether the firm, through its partnership with Sao Paulo-based consulting group A Ponte Estratégia Planejamento e Pesquisa LTDA, illegally used the data of millions of Brazilians to create psychographic profiles.
The issue is not only data collecting. The video confirms participation in the Kenyan elections of 2013 and 2017, running incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta’s campaign characterized by the use of incendiary messages and false news. We ran “every element of his campaign.”
He also discloses links to former MI6 agents and Israeli intelligence companies who provide Cambridge Analytica’s clients with a report on “all the skeletons” in their opponents’ closet.