NEW DELHI: A day after he named Congress as a client of Cambridge Analytica (CA) and offered to provide documentary proof of the firm’s operations in India, whistleblower Christopher Wylie on Wednesday said many more political parties, including the Janata Dal (United), have used the company’s services in India since 2003. The controversial firm’s services include providing micro-information that will help political parties win elections.
Since 2003, CA has worked in many elections including the 2009 general elections, Wylie said. To buttress his claims, he shared three documents related to SCL India – the Indian wing of CA’s parent company SCL Group – on Twitter. Wylie said SCL India has a database of 600 districts and seven lakh villages. He added SCL started Indian operations in 2003 where it worked in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan for a state party. In 2007 it worked in Uttar Pradesh elections and in the same year, it did a research communication campaign to support a trans-national programme in Kerala, Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and UP simultaneously.
“Our micro-level information includes household-level demographics, specifically focusing on caste data... Our services help clients target key groups within the population to influence their behaviour to realise a desired outcome,” says one of the documents shared on Twitter.
Govt puts Facebook on notice
The Communications and IT Ministry has shot off a letter to Facebook seeking information on whether and how personal data of Indian voters and users has been compromised. “What are the specific steps proposed to be taken by Facebook to prevent any misuse of personal data for potential interference in, or manipulation of, the Indian electoral process?” it asked
Wylie worked as a data analytics expert at CA and blew the lid off the unfair methods by which it collected data, such as mining personal information of Facebook users without their consent or knowledge.
“In the 2009 general elections, SCL India managed the campaigns of a number of Lok Sabha candidates. The research and campaign teams employed SCL India’s proprietary data collection methodologies to form strategies that gave the clients successful election campaigns,” says one of the documents. SCL India worked for Janata Dal (united) for the 2010 Bihar elections. It also worked for a national party in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh elections.
“SCL India was asked to provide electoral research and strategy for the 2010 state elections for the Janata Dal (United). SCL undertook a behavioural research programme targeting over 75% of households to assist the client in not only identifying the correct battlegrounds, but also the right audiences, messages and most importantly the right castes to target with their campaigns,” the document says.