File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )
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.
Wylie had previously claimed in front of a British parliamentary committee that the Indian National Congress had hired the company. However, the company has said that 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 read.
Congress refuted that it had tried to sway elections with the help of Cambridge Analytica. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala referred to statements in the parts of the deposition before the House of Commons which talked about how an Indian businessman was paying Cambridge Analytica to defeat Congress.
The BJP and Congress had swapped allegations last week, each blaming the other for taking help from Cambridge Analytica to influence elections. Cambridge Analytica is accused of harvesting personal data of Facebook users to influence elections in several countries including the US presidential elections. The company, founded by Stephen K. Bannon and Robert Mercer, a wealthy Republican donor who has put at least US $15 million into it, offered tools that could identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behaviour.
The so-called psychographic modelling techniques, which were built in part with the data harvested from Facebook, underpinned the company's work for the then-Republican nominee and US President Donald Trump's campaign in 2016. On that note, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has finally decided to testify before US Congress after repeated calls to speak over data privacy.
This comes after immense pressure on Zuckerberg from lawmakers, the media and the public after the Facebook founder last week apologised for data breach and said the platform had made "mistakes". The sources believe Zuckerberg's willingness to testify will also put pressure on Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to do the same.
(With ANI inputs)