SCL, Cambridge Analytica’s predecessor, had access to secret UK information and was singled out for praise by the UK Ministry of Defence for the training it provided to a psychological operations warfare group, according to documents newly released by MPs.
An endorsement from an official at the 15 UK Psychological Operations Group dated January 2012 concluded that they would “have no hesitation in inviting SCL to tender for further contracts of this nature”.
The document also noted that SCL – which was subsequently rebranded as Cambridge Analytica by Steve Bannon – was a company that was permitted to have “routine access to secret information” and delivered a training programme that included a “classified case study from current operations in Helmand” in Afghanistan.
The official British note of approval was one of over 100 pages of documents handed over to the digital, media, culture and sport select committee by Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie earlier this week, following a oral hearing that lasted nearly four hours.
Another of the documents released by the MPs is a confidential legal memo dated July 2014, which says it was sent to Bannon, the former Trump adviser and Breitbart CEO, and Rebekah Mercer, the daughter of Trump-backer and hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. It was also sent to Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica.
The author’s name and firm is redacted, but the memo discusses how far could Cambridge Analytica, a British company, could participate in US elections, given that donations and contributions by foreign nationals are banned. The documents say that the US arm of the company, formed in June 2014, could participate as a vendor of technology as long as Nix, a Briton, was “recused from the substantive management of any such clients involved in US elections”.
At the parliamentary hearing on Tuesday, Wylie noted that Vote Leave had spent £2.7m with a digital marketing firm called AggregateIQ, and said it had previously undisclosed links to Cambridge Analytica/SCL. Cambridge Analytica has been accused of benefiting from harvesting the data of 50 million Americans from Facebook via a series of personality quizzes.