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“Cambridge Analytica has closed, but its tactics have not gone away”

By Damien Leloup and Martin Untersinger

Posted today at 5:24 am, updated at 5:25 am

Her colorful hairstyle appeared on television around the world two years ago. Christopher Wylie, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica, is the whistleblower who revealed the existence of the gigantic theft of personal data from Facebook for political purposes carried out by this British company, for the benefit of the campaign of Donald Trump and Brexit.

  • Read: all our articles on the Cambridge Analytica case

His book, Mindfuck, is published Wednesday March 11 in French by Grasset editions (512 pages, 24 euros). A dense essay, which talks more about politics than technology, and a valuable tool for understanding the mechanisms of Donald Trump's rise to power.

At the end of your book, you are unemployed, and a little overwhelmed by your new celebrity. What are you doing today ?

Christopher Wylie: My life has become more or less normal. I work for H&M. I had my last appointment with investigators two weeks ago. I'm still very busy, but my life is a little less hectic. Living under constant public scrutiny becomes exhausting after a while.

What do you remember from all these investigations in which you testified?

I learned that sometimes the evidence is not enough. This was the case in the Brexit campaign investigation. I have provided the authorities with evidence that Vote Leave, the official campaign, spent 40% of its expenses on a subsidiary of Cambridge Analytica in Canada. These expenses were illegal, as recognized by the authorities. So we know that Vote Leave cheated. It was the largest violation of electoral law in the history of England.

Yet despite all of this evidence, almost nothing has been done. No one said “Maybe we should put this whole process on hold, pending the end of the investigation, because it is possible that this cheat had an impact on the vote”.

However, there have been parliamentary committees (linked to Cambridge Analytica) in many countries, sanctions, fines, etc.

Yes. But regulators and elected officials, for the most part, don't really understand what they are dealing with. They take over the language of Facebook, which says “We are a service, we are free, no one is forced to use our platform”. It’s like saying that electricity is a service and that if you don’t want to be electrocuted, you can do without current! Data, like electricity, is everywhere, and can be dangerous.

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