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What is Cambridge Analytica Scandal?

What is Cambridge Analytica Scandal?
Highlights

A possible role played by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica in Indian elections triggered a fierce back-and-forth between Congress and the...

A possible role played by data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica in Indian elections triggered a fierce back-and-forth between Congress and the ruling BJP after reports that the UK-based consulting firm may have also worked with a political party in India. Many are wondering what Cambridge Analytica was all about.

Cambridge Analytica LLC (CA) is a privately held company that combines data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication for the electoral process. It was created in 2013 as an offshoot of its British parent company SCL Group to participate in American politics.

In 2014, CA was involved in 44 US political races. The company is partly owned by the family of Robert Mercer, an American hedge-fund manager who supports many politically conservative causes. The firm maintains offices in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.

In 2015, it became known as the data analysis company working initially for Ted Cruz's presidential campaign.
In 2016, after Cruz's campaign had faltered, CA worked for Donald Trump's presidential campaign, and on the Leave.EU-campaign for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the European Union. CA's role in those campaigns has been controversial and is the subject of ongoing criminal investigations in both countries.

Political scientists dispute CA's claims about the effectiveness of its methods of targeting voters. On March 17, 2018, The New York Times and The Observer reported on Cambridge Analytica's use of personal information acquired from Facebook, without permission, by an external researcher who claimed to be collecting it for academic purposes. In response, Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica from advertising on its platform. The Guardian further reported that Facebook had known about this security breach for two years, but did nothing to protect its users.

A series of undercover investigative videos released in March 2018, showed Cambridge Analytica's Chief Executive Officer boasting about using prostitutes, bribery sting and "honey traps" to discredit politicians whom it conducts opposition research on. Nix also claimed that the company "ran all of (Donald Trump's) digital campaign", including possible illegal activities. The Information Commissioner of the UK has asked for a warrant to search the company's servers

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