Papers show Facebook data given to Bolton

Documents show discussions about providing the data to Mr John Bolton's political action committee.
Documents show discussions about providing the data to Mr John Bolton's political action committee.

LONDON • A British company at the heart of the Facebook data privacy scandal agreed to give a political action committee founded by Mr John Bolton, the United States' newly appointed national security adviser, data harvested from millions of Facebook users, documents released by the British Parliament show.

The papers were provided by whistle-blower Christopher Wylie, a former employee of both Cambridge Analytica and its affiliate, SCL Elections, which is part of London-based SCL Group.

The United Kingdom Committee on Digital, Culture, Media and Sports released the documents on Thursday, which include more than 120 pages of business contracts, e-mails and legal opinions.

Revealed are indications that Aggregate IQ, a Canadian company that worked closely with Cambridge Analytica and SCL, had access to data from Dr Aleksandr Kogan, an academic who had set up an app designed to build psychological profiles of people, based in part on Facebook data.

The social media giant has said that Dr Kogan violated its terms of service by using this information for commercial purposes, but Dr Kogan has said he is being "scapegoated" by the companies involved.

Cambridge Analytica said in a statement on Thursday that it did not use Facebook data from Dr Kogan's company, Global Science Research, in the 2016 US presidential campaign.

"We provided polling, data analytics and digital marketing to the campaign," the statement said. The company added that it did not use personality profiles of the sort that Dr Kogan specialised in.

It also said the data it did have was used to "identify 'persuadable' voters, how likely they were to vote, the issues they cared about, and who was most likely to donate".

In a statement on Tuesday, following Mr Wylie's testimony before the parliamentary committee, Cambridge Analytica said that it had never provided Aggregate IQ with any data from Global Science Research.

E-mails released by Parliament show that SCL Group discussed with Aggregate IQ how it could provide Dr Kogan's data - and models for how to target voters in several US states based on it - to Mr Bolton's political action committee.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 31, 2018, with the headline 'Papers show Facebook data given to Bolton'. Print Edition | Subscribe