Manipulating democracy–brainwashing the public for a large fee
Cambridge Analytica, the data harvesting firm that worked for the Trump campaign, is in the midst of a scandal that should make everyone who cares about a clean political process demand major investigations of anyone who has procured the services of the company, major prosecutions of those who have violated laws across multiple nations and a wholesale revitalisation of electoral laws to prevent politicians from ever again procuring the services of unethical companies like Cambridge Analytica.
Days ago, whistleblower Christopher Wylie went public about his time working for Cambridge Analytica and specifically about how the firm illegally obtained the public and private data, including the private messages of 50 million Facebook users. He also exposed how Cambridge Analytica used this data to run highly scientific social manipulation campaigns in order to effectively brainwash the public in various countries to support a certain political candidate or faction.
Cambridge Analytica’s dubious methods were used to meddle in the US election after the Trump campaign paid Cambridge Analytica substantial sums of money for their services. The firm also meddled in the last two Kenyan Presidential elections, elections in Nigeria, elections in Czechia, elections in Argentina, elections in India, the Brexit campaign and UK Premier Theresa May’s recently election.
Beyond the scandalous use of personal data from Facebook users and the illegal access to people’s private messages, Cambridge Analytica has now been exposed as a company that, by the hidden-camera admission of its CEO Alexander Nix, engages in nefarious, illegal and outrageous activities across the globe.
The UK Broadcaster Channel 4 just released a video of Cambridge Analytica’s CEO and Managing DIrector Mark Turnbull in a conversation with an undercover reporter posing as a Sri Lankan businessman interested in meddling in domestic elections. During the conversation Nix boasted of Cambridge Analytica’s history of using entrapment, bribery and intimidation against the political opponents of its wealthy clients. Furthermore, Nix boasted about his firm’s ability to procure Ukrainian prostitutes as a means to entrap adversaries while also procuring the services of “Israeli spies” as part of dirty smear operations.
The activities that Nix boasted of using in the past and then offered to a prospective client are illegal in virtually every country in the world. But for Nix and his world of ultra-rich clients, acting as though one is above the law is the rule rather than the exception. Thus far, Cambridge Analaytica has been able to escape justice throughout the world both for its election meddling, data harvesting, data theft and attempts to slander politicians through calculated bribery and entrapment schemes.
One person who refused to be tempted by Cambridge Analytica was Julian Assange. Alexander Nix personally wrote to Julian Assange asking for direct access to information possessed by Wikileaks and Assange refused. This is a clear example of journalistic ethics and personal integrity on the part of Assange.
I can confirm an approach by Cambridge Analytica [prior to November last year] and can confirm that it was rejected by WikiLeaks.
— Julian Assange ⌛ (@JulianAssange) October 25, 2017
Justice must be done
Cambridge Analytica stands accused of doing everything and more that the Russian state was accused of doing in respect of meddling in the 2016 US Presidential election. While meetings and conversations that Trump campaign officials, including Steve Bannon had with Cambridge Analyatica big wigs were not recorded, any information as to what was said during these exchanges should be thoroughly investigated by law enforcement and eventually made public for the sake of restoring transparency to politics.
Just as the Hillary Clinton campaign openly conspired to deprive Bernie Sanders of the Democratic Party’s nomination, so too did Donald Trump’s campaign pay Cambridge Analytica to conspire against the American voters using a calculated psychological manipulation campaign that was made possible through the use of unethically obtained and stolen data.
While Facebook claims it was itself misled and consequently victimised by Cambridge Analytica and has subsequently banned the firm from its platform, many, including Edward Snowden have alleged that Facebook knew full well what Cambridge Analytica was doing with the data retrieved from its Facebook apps.
Facebook makes their money by exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post. They are not victims. They are accomplices. https://t.co/mRkRKxsBcw
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) March 17, 2018
Already, the markets have reacted to the news and the verdict is not favourble in terms of the public perception of Facebook as an ethical company. Facebook’s share prices are down over 7% on the S&P 500. This represents the biggest tumble in the price of Facebook share prices since 2014. Moreover, the plunge has knocked Facebook out of the coveted big five companies atop the S&P 500. Furthermore, Alex Stamos, Facebook’s security director has announced that he will soon leave the company.
The Trump myth and Russia myth exposed
Donald Trump has frequently boasted of his expert campaigning skills as being the reason he won an election that few thought he could have ever won. While Trump was a far more charismatic and exciting platform speaker than his rival Hillary Clinton, it seems that for the Trump campaign, Trump ultimately needed to rely on the expensive and nefarious services of Cambridge Analytica in order to manipulate the minds of American voters and ultimately trick them into voting for him. It is impossible to say whether Trump would have still won his election without Cambridge Analaytica’s services, but the fact they were used, should immediately raise the issue of Trump’s suitability for office.
Ultimately, the Trump campaign did conspire to meddle in the election, only it was not with Russia or Russians with whom the campaign conspired, it was with the British firm Cambridge Analytica. Thus one sees that both the narrative about Trump the electoral “genius” and the narrative about Trump the Kremlin puppet are both false. The entire time, the issue of Trump campaign election meddling was one between a group of American millionaires and billionaires and a sleaze infested British firm.
Worse than Watergate
In 1972, US President Richard Nixon conspired to cover-up a beak-in at the offices of his political opponents at the Watergate Complex. The scandal ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. What the Trump campaign did with Cambridge Analytica is far more scandalous than the Watergate break-in and cover-up. Where Nixon’s cronies broke into offices to steal information from the Democratic party, Trump’s paid cyber-thugs at Cambridge Analytica broke in to the private data of 50 million people, the vast majority of whom were US citizens.
Richard Nixon, like Donald Trump, was ultimately driven by a love of power throughout his life. Just as Trump considered running for President for decades, so too did Nixon try to run in 1960 and lost to John Fitzgerald Kennedy, while he also failed to become governor of California in 1962 election. By 1968 he finally got into the White House at the height of the Vietnam War. When time came for his re-election, Nixon’s team weren’t going to take any chances and hence the Watergate break-in was orchestrated to dig up dirt on Nixon’s opponent. As it turned out Nixon won the 1972 by a comfortable margin, meaning that the Watergate break-in was probably largely in vain.
Likewise, Trump may well have won in 2016 even without Cambridge Analytica, but in his quest for power, Trump has resorted to dealing with a company whose practices have done far more damage to the American people than the Watergate break-in.
New laws are needed
While existing laws will likely be sufficient to bring the fiends at Cambridge Analytica to justice, while also determining the role that Trump campaign officials, up to and including Trump played in the scandal, new laws must be enshrined across the globe in order to put the likes of Cambridge Analytica out of business for good.
The following proposals must be debated widely and ideally implemented at the soonest possible date:
–A total ban on all forms of data mining/harvesting for political purposes.
–A total ban on the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence in any political campaign or for any political purpose.
–A mandatory seizing of the assets of any company involved in data mining/harvesting for political purposes, after which point such a company would be forcibly shut down permanently.
–A mandatory seizing of the assets of any company involved in the use of artificial intelligence or algorithms in the course of a public political campaign.
–A total ban on the use of internet based platforms, including social media by political candidates and their direct associates for anything that could reasonably be classified as a misinformation and/or manipulation scheme.
–A total ban on politicians using third party data firms or advertising firms during elections. All such advertising and analysis must be devised by advisers employed directly by or volunteering for an individual candidate or his or her party political organisation.
–A total ban on any individual working for a political campaign, who derives at least half of his or her income from employment, ownership and/or shares in a company whose primary purpose is to deliver news and analysis.
–A total ban on anyone paid by a political candidate to promote his or her election from an ownership or major share holding role in any company whose primary purpose is to deliver news and analysis until 2 years after the said election.
If all of these laws were implemented along with thorough campaign finance reform initiatives, only then can anything remotely resembling fair elections take place.
The elites eat their own
While many of the media outlets who have helped to publish the revelations of whistleblower Christopher Wylie continue to defame Russia without any evidence about Russian linkage to the 2016 US election (or any other western vote for that matter), these outlets are nevertheless exposing the true meddling scandal surrounding the Trump campaign which has the effect of destroying the Russia narrative.
In this sense, a divided elite are turning against themselves. While the billionaire property tycoon Donald Trump can hardly be described as anything but a privileged figure who moved in elite public circles for most of his life, his personal style, rhetoric and attitude towards fellow elites has served to alienate Trump from many. Thus, there is a desire on the part of the mainstream media to expose a scandal surrounding Trump in a manner that would be unthinkable in respect of exposing a cause less popular among western elites, for example the brutal treatment of Palestine by the Zionist regime.
In this sense, Trump’s own unwillingness or lack of desire to endear himself to fellow elites and instead present himself as a ‘man of the people’, might be his penultimate undoing. His rich former friends are now his rich present day enemies and many ordinary voters will be completely aghast at his involvement with Cambridge Analytica, just as many Republicans who voted for Nixon, became converts to the anti-Nixon movement once the misdeeds and dishonesty of Richard Nixon were made public. Many might well leave the ‘Trump train’ and get on board the ‘political ethics express’.
This scandal ultimately has nothing to do with one’s opinion on Trump or his policies, let alone any of the other politicians who have hired Cambridge Analytica. The issue is that a company engaged in the most nefarious, dangerous, sleazy and wicked behaviour in the world, is profiting from their destruction of political institutions that ought to be based on open policy debates rather than public manipulation, brainwashing and artificial intelligence.
The issue is also one of privacy. 50 million people have been exploited by an unethical company and what’s more is that the money from the Trump campaign helped to empower this unethical company. This is therefore as unfair to non-voters as it is to voters. Cambridge Analytica must be shut down and all companies like it must restrict the scope of their operations or else face the same consequence.