Cambridge Analytica, the political data firm that has recently come under fire for allegedly using data acquired from Facebook to build profiles of voters, may have been planning to launch their own ICO.
According to a report in the New York Times, Cambridge Analytica (the London-based data firm involved with the recent Facebook scandal) have been planning to make a quiet move into the world of cryptocurrencies.
The Audacity of a Cambridge Analytica-led ICO
“Who knows more about the usage of personal data than Cambridge Analytica, so why not build a platform that reconstructs the way that works?” — Brittany Kaiser in the New York Times.
According to the reports (and a former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser), the firm had been looking to pitch their coin as a solution to the problem of online privacy, which ironically, the firm has drawn more attention to than any other considering their involvement in one of history’s most significant data scandals. At best, any move by the firm to lead the new wave of data protection is audacious, but other revelations indicate there may be more sinister motivations in keeping with their recent notoriety.
Backing gangsters and perverting the philosophy behind crypto
The Times claim to have received documents that show Cambridge Analytica’s efforts to promote Dragon Coin, a digital currency that has twice failed to deliver an app allowing investors to use its virtual coin and has been associated with famous Macau gangster, Wan Kuok-Koi.
Reports by the newspaper suggest that Cambridge Analytica had been discussing potential ways of using cryptocurrency to influence political campaigns. According to Jill Carson (a consultant experienced with working alongside blockchain companies), Cambridge Analytica employees bragged about how their tactics had helped get President Trump elected with their successful targeted advertising campaigns on social media. One strategy involved sending crypto to people in Mexico in return for filling out surveys. The idea was that the data gathered would allow the firm to design campaigns for Mexican political candidates.
The reported behavior of Cambridge Analytica suggests its goals run counter to the ideals with which DLT was designed. The evident desire to manipulate data to influence political decisions is a complete perversion of the idea of democratic technology and any ICO backed by the firm would likely struggle to garner much support from the crypto community. However, given the secretive nature of their foray into the world of crypto, the community would do well to examine ICOs offering data protection closely.