Cambridge Analytica whistle-blower says Facebook data could be in Russia

Whistle-blower Christopher Wylie said it was difficult to verify how many people had access to the Facebook information or derivatives of that data “because it was a lot of people”.

tech Updated: Apr 08, 2018 09:54 IST
Ros Krasny
Ros Krasny
Bloomberg
Facebook data privacy scandal,Facebook,Cambridge Analytica
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an interview with The Atlantic at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Facebook is going through a crisis after a whistle-blower revealed that a data analytical firm accessed information of the social media giant’s user base to help influence US election. (AFP File Photo)

Some of the information improperly harvested from Facebook Inc. users might be stored in Russia, said the former employee of Cambridge Analytica who blew the whistle on the data-privacy scandal involving the analytics firm’s role in the 2016 presidential election.

The data “could be stored in various parts of the world, including Russia,” Christoper Wylie said in an interview with NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ that will run in full on Sunday. “The professor who was managing the data harvesting process was going back and forth between the UK and Russia,” Wylie said, an apparent reference to Cambridge University lecturer Aleksandr Kogan.

Wylie said it was difficult to verify how many people had access to the Facebook information or derivatives of that data “because it was a lot of people,” according to a partial transcript released by the network.

The number of Facebook profiles whose data was improperly shared with London-based Cambridge Analytica was first estimated at 50 million people. This week, Facebook raised that estimate to 87 million. Wylie said the true figure “could be higher, absolutely.”

“Once data leaves your database, you know, data is a fungible thing, right?” he said. “You can make as many copies as possible.”

Facebook founder and chief executive officer Mark Zuckerberg is preparing to testify before Congressional panels investigating the mishandling of its data and other revelations about the social-media giant.

Zuckerberg is scheduled to appear before a joint hearing of the Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committee on Tuesday to discuss Facebook’s role in society and users’ privacy. He’ll back up Wednesday before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Read | Trump consultants harvested data from 50 million Facebook users during 2016 election campaign

Cambridge Analytica was funded by former Renaissance Technologies co-CEO Robert Mercer, a major supporter of President Donald Trump in 2016. Trump campaign official Steve Bannon, who went on to be White House chief strategist after Trump’s election, earlier served on the firm’s board.

First Published: Apr 08, 2018 09:53 IST