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Justice Department, FBI Are Investigating Cambridge Analytica (cbsnews.com) 139

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: The Justice Department and FBI are investigating Cambridge Analytica, the now-shuttered political data firm that was once used by the Trump campaign and came under scrutiny for harvesting data of millions of users, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Times, citing a U.S. official and people familiar with the inquiry, reported federal investigators have looked to question former employees and banks connected to the firm.

The Times reports prosecutors have informed potential witnesses there is an open investigation into the firm, whose profiles of voters were intended to help with elections. One source tells CBS News correspondent Paula Reid prosecutors are investigating the firm for possible financial crimes. A company that has that much regulatory scrutiny is almost guaranteed to have federal prosecutors interested, Reid was told. Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who spoke out about the data sharing practices, told the Times federal investigators had contacted him. The American official told the Times investigators have also contacted Facebook as a part of the probe.

Justice Department, FBI Are Investigating Cambridge Analytica

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  • Gotta hand it to Trump, if nothing else he did what no other politician or internet freedom activist over the last several decades could. He got people to finally care about privacy. People weren't only indifferent. They were slobbering in ecstasy over the likes of google and obama for vacuuming all their PI everyday. Trump changed all of this. Maybe indirectly due to the fact that people couldn't stand him allegedly benefiting but change the game he did.
    • He got some people to finally care about privacy.

      FTFY. 20M people quit Facebook which isn't even a tenth of the number of fools that have signed up in the US.

      People weren't only indifferent. They were slobbering in ecstasy over the likes of google and obama for vacuuming all their PI everyday. Trump changed all of this.

      Exposing the depths (and more importantly the success) of manipulation by Cambridge Analytica is what woke some people up. However, this is just a repeat of the same old selfish pattern: people don't really care about some issue until it affects them personally. Do you think Trump voters suddenly cares about their privacy? I'm betting they are as indifferent as ever.

      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        I signed up with a fake account simply to watch my kid's concerts which were streamed on Facebook.

        It's also fun to post crazy shit and troll various organizations. As long as you don't go over the top, all you are doing is fucking up FB's data and also give people a few laughs and you stay under the FB radar.

    • by Balial ( 39889 )

      So are you willfully ignorant of the whole contract violation part that Cambridge Analytica engaged in that the others didn't? Or are you just that clueless?

  • Didn't they just change their name? Or am I thinking of some other association of shysters?

    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      That's what I remember, too. We should stop calling them by their old name, as that only plays into their game of trying to dissociate themselves from their past actions.

    • Re:Shuttered? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 16, 2018 @03:15AM (#56619084)

      It's Emerdata now.

      They will probably do a second namechange later on like Blackwater / Xe Services / Academi did. (Founded by Betsy DeVos brother b.t.w.)

      The name is just marketing anyway, keep track of the people behind it instead:

      Jennifer and Rebekah Mercer are directors of Emerdata, and are the daughters of ultra-wealthy businessman Robert Mercer who created and bankrolled Cambridge Analytica.

      Source: cambridge analytica shutdown [theregister.co.uk]

      It doesn't matter how many companies they have or what they name them. If you see those names behind it it is probably part of organized crime.

    • Or am I thinking of some other association of shysters?

      The Democratic National Committee has too much long-term name recognition value to just change their name because of some indiscrete email leaks.

  • by ytene ( 4376651 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2018 @01:29AM (#56618868)
    The thing to bear in mind here is that Cambridge Analytica managed to obtain only a relatively small percentage of information about Facebook Users. The information it managed to obtain was either information voluntarily provided by users in response to a survey, or publicly-visible information carried by "friends" of the relatively small number of users who took their survey.

    Facebook have access to data on ALL their users. They have the complete history of all their users. They have a vast trove of information about what their users do when they are not on the Facebook platform, thanks to a combination of cookies delivered by their servers and the beacons they place all across the Internet, courtesy of Facebook "Like" buttons on popular web sites.

    Cambridge Analytica are only getting this level of scrutiny because Christopher Wylie basically left regulators with no choice, after publicly telling the world what CA had the ability to do. An equivalent FB insider, anyone who chose to reveal the full scope of what FB can do, would scare most people silly.

    It's amazing to think that people are getting worked up about this relatively small data set obtained by this relatively tiny company, when the data is being held by this behemoth call Facebook, run by a guy who makes no secret of his political ambitions. Talk about elephant in the room.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The NSA taps into Google, Facebook, Yahoo etc. were only required because the government did not have access to the same level of data that these companies do. The outrage at the Snowden leaks was not insignificant. What I find difficult to understand is why so many are more frightened by their own government (which has little incentive to harm them other than to maintain its own power and is mostly designed to facilitate services and infrastructure they need.) than they are of multi-national corporations w

    • The thing to bear in mind here is that Cambridge Analytica managed to obtain only a relatively small percentage of information about Facebook Users. The information it managed to obtain was either information voluntarily provided by users in response to a survey, or publicly-visible information carried by "friends" of the relatively small number of users who took their survey.

      and Friends of Friends... and? The numbers I heard were 53 people took the survey in Australia, and exposed the data of more than 300,000 individuals.

      That's some good leverage.

    • First, thanks to machine learning you only need a sample of the population to be able to semi-accurately create psychological profiles for everyone. That's why yesterday's leak of 'only' 3 million profiles is still significant.

      Second, your argument amounts to 'whataboutism'. If Facebook is acting unscrupulously on an even larger scale, we should fight that too. You don't get away with murder by saying "but that guy killed 10 people!".
    • The thing to bear in mind here is that Cambridge Analytica managed to obtain only a relatively small percentage of information about Facebook Users. The information it managed to obtain was either information voluntarily provided by users in response to a survey, or publicly-visible information carried by "friends" of the relatively small number of users who took their survey.

      You're underplaying the significance of what was "voluntarily provided" in a survey. The API did not allow any fine grained permissions. What was actually provided by undertaking the survey users handed over their survey answers, their complete private profile, their history, likes, affiliations, locations, as well as trusted information by friends which itself is not considered public information. Facebook already handed over far more than users had in their profiles, and certainly far more than their frie

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by argStyopa ( 232550 )

      "It's amazing to think that people are getting worked up about this relatively small data set obtained by this relatively tiny company"

      Not really. We've had a 2 year multimillion dollar investigation into a president based on no actual evidence, just supposition and speculation by people who ardently were opposed to him.

      Support Trump, you'll be punished beyond the full extent of the law for being on the "wrong side". It's almost like religion.

    • Wasn't it, that only part of the data was obtained directly from FB, and part from a survey, which collected data for scientific purposes, and that what the users agreed to, later the researcher sold the data to Cambridge Analytica?
      Both cases entered shadowy legal area, the former was probably in violation of FB use of data the latter was clearly in violation of FB agreement with the scientist making the survey.
  • The company has morhped already:

    https://www.metro.us/news/the-... [metro.us]

    They are really catching the discarded skin of the snake.

  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday May 16, 2018 @07:13AM (#56619516)

    These never seem to go anywhere. There's never enough evidence to convict any significant decision maker of a crime, especially when they have enough resources for counsel that is able to obfuscate sufficiently.

    At best you see some kind of vague conspiracy charge -- which really, anyone could be charged with -- or real bullshit stuff, like mid-level flunkies who get convicted of something like "lying to the FBI", which seems to make a serious felony out of either honest people's inadvertent "lies by omission" or the natural reaction people have to the intimidation of being questioned by a serious law enforcement organization.

    So a handful of people might wind up scapegoats on technicality charges since prosecutors don't like failure publicity. No film at 11, you can find this story buried on the back of the sports section.

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Why don't you wait until the investigation is completed before making silly pronouncements on its outcome.

      • by swb ( 14022 )

        Because I'm fifty-fucking-one years old and I've seen this dumb movie remade 100 times. The ending never changes just because the cast does.

  • They're a foreign firm. Who cares? The damage is done. There are people out there with fucking chainsaws and the Justice Department is going after Cambridge Analytica. Is anyone else sick of this? Yes, Cambridge Analytica fucked up. Ban them from doing business with American firms and slap a huge fine on them.
    • They're a foreign firm. Who cares?

      Those of us who don't want them do it again.

      • They're a foreign firm. Who cares?

        Those of us who don't want them do it again.

        Give them a billion dollar punitive fine and it won't happen again.

  • Let's get back to overthrowing the guy the electorate picked and democracy !!
  • qanonposts.com

  • So why wasn't Obama investigated by them in 2012?.

    The Obama’s reelection team was “building a vast digital data operation that for the first time combines a unified database on millions of Americans with the power of Facebook to target individual voters to a degree never achieved before.” Obama’s new database would be gathered by asking individual volunteers to log into Obama’s reelection site using their Facebook credentials. “Consciously or otherwise,” “th

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