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Labour, PN Pour Cold Water On Manuel Delia’s New Cambridge Analytica Story

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The Labour Party and the Nationalist Party have quickly shot down a story by journalist-blogger Manuel Delia that they had contacted big data firm Cambridge Analytica for aid ahead of the 2013 election. 

Manuel Delia says he has email evidence that indicates the SCL Group – the parent company of Cambridge Analytica – had been advising the Labour Party for several years before 2013. One email allegedly shows how Christian Kalin – CEO of citizenship firm Henley & Partners – had actually contacted SCL to set up a meeting with then Opposition leader Joseph Muscat in June 2011.

Another allegedly shows how SCL’s director Alexander Nix had personally visited the Nationalist Party to offer to assist them in the upcoming elections.

Nix

Cambridge Analytica’s former CEO Alexander Nix 

“Alexander Nix’s approach was not taken seriously by the PN at the time as his visit occurred suspiciously close to the election at a stage that would be too late to develop any initiatives that might be of any use,” Delia wrote. “PN officials also felt that the unsolicited nature of the visit by Alexander Nix made the entire thing too suspicious. Former PN officials who spoke to me in confidence expressed the view that hindsight confirmed their suspicion at the time that SCL was making its approach in order to extract as much information from it that could be useful for the Labour Party’s campaign.” 

However, both the PL and the PN have stuck to their versions of events – that big data firms had no role to play in their respective campaigns. A spokesperson for Prime Minister Joseph Muscat dismissed Delia’s story as a “lie…pure fiction”, while former PN leader Lawrence Gonzi said he had “no idea” about Nix’s alleged meeting with PN officials. 

Both insisted their election campaigns were designed completely in-house. 

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The story was published on the blog of Manuel Delia

However, a part of Manuel Delia’s blogpost – that PN deputy leader David Agius had introduced Henley’s CEO to the PN in 2011 – was corroborated by Agius himself.

“I met Kalin at some event and he had wanted a meeting with the government – if I’m not mistaken, with [then finance minister] Tonio Fenech related to the Permanent Residence Scheme,” he told Lovin Malta. “I never met him again since then, except for perhaps encounters at events.”

Christopher Wylie, a data analytics expert and former Cambridge Analytica employee, recently blew the whistle on his former company, telling The Observer how it had used the Facebook data of US voters to profile them and micro-target them with political adverts in favour of Donald Trump. Cambridge Analytica had bought this data from Global Science Research, which had in turn gained it from a personality quiz app that was ostensibly gathering data for academic research. 

READ NEXT: Facebook Is Helping Governments Drown Out The Media’s Voice And Malta Is A Shocking Case Study

Tim is interested in the rapid evolution of human society brought about by technological advances. He’s passionate about justice, human rights and cutting-edge political debates. You can follow him on Twitter at @timdiacono or reach out to him at [email protected]

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