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Tech News

Trump’s 2020 campaign might include ex-Cambridge Analytica staff

June 16, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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A handful of former Cambridge Analytica employees might be working on Donald Trump’s re-election campaign. The Associated Press reports that two of its reporters overheard Matt Oczkowski, Cambridge Analytica’s former head of product, say that he and the firm he now leads were “doing the president’s work for 2020” alongside Trump’s 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale. A source familiar with that company, Data Propria, told the AP that work on the campaign had already begun.

Data Propria is a new data analysis firm that provides ad-targeting services and the AP says at least four ex-Cambridge Analytica employees are affiliated with the company. Oczkowski confirmed that three people on his team previously worked at Cambridge Analytica, one of which is CA’s former lead data scientist David Wilkinson.

However, Oczkowski has denied that Data Propria is working on Trump’s 2020 campaign, as has Parscale. Parscale told the AP that he hasn’t handed out any contracts for the re-election campaign just yet and Oczkowski said Data Propria had changed course since the AP reporters overhead his conversation. He added that anything he would have said about Trump’s 2020 campaign would have been speculative. However, Data Propria has secured a contract to perform work for the Republican National Committee.

Following reports that it had improperly obtained personal information on millions of Facebook users, Cambridge Analytica ultimately shut down and filed for bankruptcy. It’s currently being investigated by the FBI and the Department of Justice.

Tech News

Google suspends election ads in Washington state

June 7, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Google has bowed to pressure from Washington state and will no longer run local election advertisements starting from today. Attorney General Bob Ferguson recently accused Google and Facebook — which have received about $1.5 million and $3.4 million in relation to advertising respectively — of shielding the public from information about who is buying the political ads they see. Ferguson’s subsequent lawsuit argued that both companies had failed to adhere to the state’s stipulated campaign finance laws.

In response, Google announced via an AdWords policy update that it would suspend ads concerning ballot measures and candidates for both local and state elections. Google representative Alex Krasov told GeekWire that the tech company “take(s) transparency and disclosure of political ads very seriously” and it would make sure its systems are in alignment with the revised campaign disclosure law.

New requirements from the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) mandate that “information regarding political advertising or electioneering communications must be made available” and the maintenance of corresponding records is required for “no less than three years” after the election in question. From now on, digital communication platforms like Google and Facebook need to be able to provide a description of the audiences and geographic locations targeted, as well as the complete number of impressions advertisements generate.

This is an unusual move by Google, which has no previous track record of pausing political ads across a US state. However, in the wake of allegations that the 2016 presidential election was sabotaged by Russian cyberattacks and the GDPR‘s commitment to transparency and user privacy, it appears Google is choosing to adapt rather than face even more outside pressure.

Regardless, this isn’t a prohibition. It’s a pause. Facebook is yet to make a public response following the lawsuit, but has already promised to start clearly labeling political ads (and outing who paid for them) from this spring.