Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says Congress may have been client
28 March 2018
A former employee of data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica turned whistleblower Christopher Wylie, told a British parliamentary committee on Tuesday that he believed the Congress party was a client of the data analytics company, currently facing criminal investgations in the US an UK.
However PTI reported from London, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, co-founder of PersonalData.IO, in his testomny to the committee said that he had heard reports of the India head of Cambridge Anaklytica being paid by an Indian billionaire who wanted Congress Party to lose the elections.
In his testimony to the British Parliament’s digital, culture, media and sports committee, Wylie said in response to a query on Cambridge Analytica’s work in India, “I believe their client was Congress. But I know that they have done all kinds of projects. I don’t remember a national project, but I know regionally. I believe I have some documentation on India, which I can also provide to the committee if that’s something of interest.”
The India head Dehaye was referring to was Dan Muresan, head of elections at SCL Group, who had been working in India before he died under mysteriously in Kenya.
“So he was pretending to work for one party but actually paid underhand by someone else,” said Dehaye.
Wylie’s remarks had the BJP glating. Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad attacked the Congress, “The whistleblower has publicly confirmed that the Congress was indeed their client. Rahul Gandhi had been trying to divert attention. Today, he stands exposed. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi must apologise to the nation”, Prasad told reporters.
But Divya Spandana, the head of the Congress Party social media and digital communications, called Wylie’s statement an “absolute lie”.
She said the Congress had never engaged Cambridge Analytica, neither for the 2014 general elections, nor for the upcoming 2019 elections. She said she had spoken to Rahul Gandhi, and the Congress had never used the data analytics firm.
She said Congress is not even “engaging them for 2019 because the proposal would have come to me. And it hasn’t”.
Congress communications in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala, responded to BJP's charges, tweeting that an Indian billionaire may have hired Cambridge Analytica to work against Congress, and sought to know who had “conspired against the Congress”
Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, Strategic Communication Laboratories, has an Indian partner, Ovleno Business Intelligence (OBI), owned by Amrish Tyagi, son of senior JD(U) leader K C Tyagi.
According to an Indian Express report, Amrish Tyagi is a director in Ghaziabad-based Strategic Communication Laboratories Private Limited, which also had Alexander Nix as its director. Nix was chief executive of Cambridge Analytica whose executives were secretly recorded by undercover journalists of Channel 4 News, bragging about their election-influencing methods, including bribery and honey traps, against their client’s opponents. India was one of the countries that had been named.