File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
Cambridge Analytica has come under more scrutiny after reports of its parent company was not only involved in the Indian elections since 2003 but also worked on cases related to honor killings, reports said on Thursday.
Strategic Communications Limited states in one of the documents that it completed a project on “honour killings and cultural change” in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan between 2009 and 2010, and goes on to explain its achievement.
The document wrote: “Despite numerous legal instruments and policy pronouncements the custom of honour killing remains an issue in India and one that does not chime with its self-image as a modern democracy. At the level of enforcement, local police and magistrates are often sympathetic to the practice of killing."
“This has made systematic enforcement of the law somewhat problematic. SCL helped its client to better understand the often convoluted and secretive culture surrounding honour killings. The caste framework is deeply embedded into Indian society, however, economic growth and the breakdown of prejudices amongst the younger generation has challenged preconceptions around traditional culture."
“SCL examined the cultural and social systems that gave rise to killings, including the socio-cultural understandings of honour (maryada) that drove the murders. SCL analysed the issue via problem space mapping and on that foundation proposed a number of interventions to stop honour killings taking place.”
A set of documents which were released by whistleblower Christopher Wylie also included information on issues that of “comprehensive research, followed by a targeted intervention, radically changed voter behaviour in Thailand”, and “Covert sponsorship of peaceful rallies in Indonesia prevented disorder and ensured a smooth transition to civilian rule”.
Documents given to the British parliamentary committee on digital, culture, media and sport, which was published on Thursday, includes texts of agreements that Strategic Communications Limited signed for elections in the US and elsewhere, reports said.
It is also said that the parent company 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 released by MPs.
Wylie had previously claimed in front of a British parliamentary committee that the Indian National Congress had hired the company.
However, Cambridge Analytica (CA), which is in the midst of the Facebook data privacy storm, has come to the fore and responded to the hearing of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, saying that whistleblower Chris Wylie had "no direct knowledge of the company's work or practices since 2014."
"Chris Wylie was a part-time contractor who left Cambridge Analytica in July 2014 and has no direct knowledge of the company's work or practices since that date. He was at the company for less than a year, after which he was made the subject of restraining undertakings to prevent his misuse of the company's intellectual property while attempting to set up his own rival firm. He was not, as he claims, a founder of Cambridge Analytica," the firm, said in a statement.
"Wylie has misrepresented himself and the company to the committee, and previously to the news media. He admits himself that what he says is speculation," the statement added.