Tag: AggregateIQ

An introduction to Dominic Raab, the new Brexit sectarian

Dominic Raab, the hard Brexit Sectarian Secretary  – who has replaced David Davis following his resignation last night – is a hard right libertarian and supports a hard Brexit. He’s been a fiercely loyal pro-Brexit outrider from the backbenches, and made broadcast outings more regularly than some ministers during the general election.

As a staunch neoliberal, he said in 2010 that “positive discrimination is wrong in the same way as negative discrimination. It means people are thinking in terms of social criteria and it is anti-meritocratic.”

It’s likely that May’s decision to appoint a staunch Brexiteer to the role is an olive branch to ever-restive Leave-supporting MPs who could seize on Davis’ resignation as an opportunity to launch a leadership challenge against her.

Raab was a co-founder of Change Britain, effectively a continuity wing of the Vote Leave campaign. Raab is a former lawyer for Linklaters, advising on EU and trade law and an ex-chief of staff to Davis. Linklaters has also hired Hanbury Strategy to provide the law firm with policy advice ‘in connection with the impact of Brexit on their clients’ businesses’. It also employs former foreign secretary William Hague as chair of its international advisory group. Of course, another of Hanbury Strategies’ clients is AggregateIQ Data Services Ltd.

Raab said last year that Brexit offers the UK’s legal sector “enormous” opportunities and that Britain already had a reputation as being a “global centre for business as being the best place to resolve disputes”. The legal industry employs 300,000 people — two-thirds outside London — and revenue generated by legal activities in the UK is £31.5bn, he said, adding that legal expertise is one of Britain’s unique selling points. Advising business on Brexit is certainly a lucrative role.

Raab was speaking at the Policy Exchange in London at the launch of a report by Linklaters, which explores ways of ‘ improving’ Britain’s ‘competitiveness’ after Brexit by ‘enhancing the rule of law’. The report concluded that Brexit ‘creates an opportunity to reinforce the rule of law in Britain’ and to make laws that are clear and ‘manageable’. It says one danger is that the future pressure on the government and parliament’s time after Brexit could result in “hastily drafted and poorly scrutinised laws that unintentionally subvert the rule of law.”

The Linklaters report concludes that Brexit will not allow Britain to change its laws completely but “it will provide a once in a generation opportunity to make material improvements” and says clearer legislation will help provide businesses “with the certainty and fairness they need to invest, employ and transact in the UK.”

The report says after Brexit it will be the responsibility of the UK parliament to enact laws in areas that are currently within the competency of the EU and this opportunity will require “some innovation” on the part of parliament. It urges that parliamentary processes to scrutinise new laws should be simplified and it also urges that the volume of legislation and regulation should be reduced. 

It’s kind of ironic that for all the domestic haggling and wrangling on Brexit, we risk forgetting that internationally, Britain is the place people think of as the place they would most like to come to resolve their disputes. That is a unique comparative advantage for us.” 

Raab went on: “As we seek to minimise legal risk please let’s not cower in a corner afraid of our shadow — Britain is better than that,” adding there were opportunities for post-Brexit Britain to build on its reputation as a centre for ‘legal expertise’. He sees the UK as a haven for businesses who want  a more ‘relaxed’ legal system, presumably, than elsewhere.

Despite his support for a full break with the European Union, in Raab’s constituency, Esher and Walton, citizens voted 58.4 percent to 41.6 percent to remain. He doesn’t like worker’s rights (most Tories don’t, they get in the way of exploitation and profiteering). Raab has links to an extended network of individuals and organisations pushing deregulation and climate science denial. In 2012, he wrote a piece for the Taxpayers’ Alliance demanding the government be transparent about the cost of its climate policies. 

Raab has voted against allowing a right to remain for EU nationals already in living in the UK after Brexit. He has also campaigned to change the UK’s Human Rights Act.

He was also a part of the Leave Means Leave campaign, despite his name being removed from the site recently, which was also supported by some of the UK’s most prominent climate science deniers such as former Tory MP and now Lord Peter Lilley, and Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MP Sammy Wilson. It was also supported by libertarian Tories calling for deregulations which have previously pushed disinformation on climate change including Jacob Rees-Mogg John Redwood, Christopher Chope and Ian Paisley to name a few. The Labour Party and Trade Unions have expressed concerns about his appointment, as Raab has also advocated scaling the minimum wage back.

Rabb is a co-author of the hard-right ‘Britannia Unchained‘ manifesto in 2012, along with Kwasi Kwarteng, Priti Patel, Chris Skidmore and Liz Truss, who collectively claimed that British workers ‘prefer a lie-in to hard work’ and that British people ‘are amongst the worst idlers in the world’.

Raab is also a keen advocate and supporter of the notorious libertarian Taxpayers’ Alliance, who bleat that rich people have to pay a little back to the society they gained so much from. Back in 2011, Raab proposed, in a pamphlet published by the Centre for Policy Studies entitled ‘Escaping the Strait Jacket’, that should the UK leave the EU this should be seen as an opportunity to slash protections for workers.

Referring to David Cameron’s attempts to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU, at the time, Raab wrote: “This opportunity should be seized, and used to remove some of the obstacles to British business.” 

Paul Blomfield, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Minister, said: “The new Brexit Secretary has long harboured ambitions to slash vital workplace protections and rights, and the Prime Minister has now put him in a position to do so.

“This latest blow for workers comes a few days after the Cabinet failed to rule out a race to the bottom with the EU on crucial employment protection. It’s become abundantly clear once again that this chaotic Tory Government cannot be trusted with people’s rights after Brexit.”

Tim Roache, GMB General Secretary said: “This appointment signals a promotion of a hard right figurehead who has shown contempt for working people in Britain.

“Theresa May has appointed someone who think British workers are lazy and have too many rights and he has already published plans to slash vital rights from the minimum wage to rights for agency workers.

“The hard won rights of UK workers are already under serious threat in the post-Brexit landscape – basic things like not being forced to work 60 hours a week and being able to get home to see your family.

“Dominic Raab’s appointment now poses a direct and immediate threat to working people in Britain.

At a time when we see a Tory back bencher salivating at the prospect of axing the Working Time Directive, the new Brexit Minister needs be clear where he stands on workers’ rights – the public will not accept a Brexit that makes life harder for working people.”

As a campaigning anti-unionist, Raab had also presented an ultimately unsuccessful Ten Minute Rule Bill proposing that emergency service and transport Unions should be required by law to ensure that strike votes receive 50% support of union members. Raab argued that reform was needed to prevent “militant union bosses” holding the “hard working majority” to ransom.

I guess he doesn’t get the whole idea of ‘collective bargaining’, then, unless of course, it involves big business gathering together to lobby the government for labour market deregulation and bigger profits.

In February this year, Raab advertised for an unpaid intern just ahead of a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy publication, responding to the Taylor review on insecure work. The BEIS report criticised “exploitative unpaid internships” saying “an employer cannot avoid paying someone the minimum wage simply by calling them an ‘intern’ or saying that they are doing an internship.” 

Earlier in the year while he was serving as Housing Minister, Raab courted controversy by claiming that immigration to the United Kingdom had driven up housing prices by as much as 20 percent. Raab’s claims were then challenged by the UK Statistics Authority which asked that he publish the information supporting his allegation. When produced, it transpired that the information he cited was based on modelling long-since considered discredited and out of date, leading to criticism of his performance in his ministerial role. 

In 2015, he voted against explicitly requiring an environmental permit for fracking activities and voted not to ban the exploitation of unconventional petroleum for at least 18 months and not to require a review of the impact of such exploitation on climate change.

In 2011, the self-pitying, privileged white male waged a gender war on feminists, calling them “amongst the most obnoxious bigots”. He said he feels that men get a raw deal ‘from the cradle to the grave’ because of  “anti-male discrimination in rights of maternity/paternity leave”, young boys being “educationally disadvantaged compared to girls”, and because “divorced or separated fathers are systematically ignored by the courts”. Raab clains: “Men work longer hours, die earlier, but retire later than women”.  I guess child-rearing and being burdened with a disproportionate share of household chores, which isn’t salaried, don’t count as ‘work’. 



Brexit, law firms, PR, lobbying and the communication ‘dark arts’ political hires


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Cambridge Analytica try to dismiss Chris Wylie’s evidence as ‘conspiracy theories’ and ‘false evidence’

Image result for Chris Wylie

Christopher Wylie told a select committee earlier that the pro-Brexit campaign had a “common plan” to use a network of companies to get around election spending laws and said he thought there “could have been a different outcome had there not been, in my view, cheating”.

He added: “It makes me so angry, because a lot of people supported leave because they believe in the application of British law and British sovereignty. And to irrevocably alter the constitutional settlement of this country on fraud is a mutilation of the constitutional settlement of this country.” 

Of course, Vote Leave has repeatedly denied allegations of collusion or deliberate overspending. When they first surfaced over the weekend, Boris Johnson, who fronted the campaign, ranted: “Vote Leave won fair and square – and legally. We are leaving the EU in a year and going global.”

Wylie, who sparked the scandal around alleged misappropriation of Facebook data by his old employer, has also said that its micro-targeting efforts were 10 times more effective that those of rival companies. However, the framing of the debate ought to include the intent that motivates the use of those methods, and the implications for democracy.

Wylie gave his evidence in a four-hour session before the digital, culture, media and sport select committee. He made a number of remarkable claims about Brexit and Cambridge Analytica, including that his predecessor, Dan Mursean, died mysteriously in a Kenyan hotel room in 2012 after a contract in the company “turned sour.”

Wylie commented that it was striking that Vote Leave and three other pro-Brexit groups – BeLeave, which targeted students; Veterans for Britain, and Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist party – all used the services of the little-known firm Aggregate IQ (AIQ) to help target voters online. 

Cambridge Analytica have responded:

“Today the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee heard false information, speculation, and completely unfounded conspiracy theories from a witness regarding Cambridge Analytica.

Chris 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 and therefore we feel it is important to set out the actual facts which are as follows.

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.

Cambridge Analytica does not hold any GSR data or any data derived from GSR data. We have never shared the GSR data with Aggregate IQ, Palantir or any other entity. Cambridge Analytica did not use any GSR data in the work that we did for the Donald J. Trump for President campaign. 

Cambridge Analytica subcontracted some digital marketing and software development to Aggregate IQ in 2014 and 2015. The suggestion that Cambridge Analytica was somehow involved in any work done by Aggregate IQ in the 2016 EU referendum is entirely false.

Beyond an early-stage sales pitch to Vote Leave, Cambridge Analytica had no interaction with that group or any of their vendors. We have never had any contact with Eldon Insurance. We played no role in the UK referendum on EU membership.

We are disgusted that Mr Wylie would use the tragic death of a member of our team as a means to further his own agenda. An investigation by Kenyan authorities concluded that there was nothing suspicious about our colleague’s death, and we as a company were deeply saddened by the loss. 

Cambridge Analytica has never worked with or been in contact with Black Cube in any capacity. 

Attempts by Mr Wylie to link a prospective commercial pilot project, for a small number of gas stations in Turkey, with politics and Russia are absurd.

We take allegations of unethical practices in the past by our former global (non-US) political consultancy very seriously, and they are currently the subject of a full and independent investigation which we have instigated to establish the facts. Its findings will be made available in due course.

The facts above also apply to Cambridge Analytica’s affiliate companies.”

CA blag.png

CA and affiliates are now busy trying to discredit some of their own previous claims.

CA’s political research entails “The process of collecting valuable information on voters, opposition, and trends. This provides the fullest possible picture of voter behavior”.

The company describe themselves as “the market leader in the provision of data analytics and behavioral communications for political campaigns, issue groups and commercial enterprises. With cutting-edge technology, pioneering data science, and over 25 years of experience in behavior change, CA provides advertisers with unparalleled insight into their audiences.” 

The normalisation of manipulation and ‘behavioural modification’

Last year, CA were announced as a winner in the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) 2017 David Ogilvy Awards. The company’s campaign “Make America Number One” took the Gold honor in the “big data category” for its “successful work targeting undecided voters during the 2016 presidential election.” (A pro-Trump propaganda campaign using ‘behavioural science’, which was designed from the detailed data that was held, on millions of unsuspecting US citizens). ARF have basically endorsed Cambridge Analytica’s (CA) general corporate practices of data mining and psychographic modeling. 

This indicates just how normalised data mining and behavioural modification techniques have become within the PR/consultation/strategic messaging/advertising industry. As someone on the outside of the industry, it’s only possible to get a glimpse of the methods used, as the language use is  kind of coded, in a context-dependent sort of way – and therefore, operates as a sort of closed system to people who don’t get the references in managementspeak acronyms and behavioural economics. Many sites don’t permit full access to information unless you are one of their members. 

It struck me during Chris Wylie’s commentary about the use of “behavioural science” that his language reflected the central ideas of nudge theories, he was using words like “heuristics”, “cognitive bias” and so on. He outlined the basic premise of nudge, too – the idea that humans are fundamentally ‘irrational’. (Yet curiously, those ‘choice architects’ claiming that they know what is best for society and individual citizens are exempt from that theory).

It resonated with something I said a few years ago: that it was only a matter of time before governments started using nudge to influence citizen voting. It was pretty reasonable, as it turns out, to believe that sooner or later, we were going to see widespread manipulation of people’s decision-making, including in elections.

Back in 2016, Wired wrote an article called 25 GENIUSES WHO ARE CREATING THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS, in which it says: “Alexander Nix wants to turn mad men into psychologists. For too long, he says, demographics and purchasing behavior have been the primary guideposts of the marketing industry, used to guess what a target audience might want. 

“Nix’s company, Cambridge Analytica, can provide psychological profiling to help advertisers tailor their messages to specific personality types.

“The firm groups people according to where they fall on the so-called OCEAN scale, which psychologists use to measure how open, conscientious, extroverted, agreeable, or neurotic they are. Cambridge surveyed hundreds of thousands of people across the US to generate a statistical model to predict these traits in the broader population.

Using Cambridge’s data, marketers combine a key trait with generic demographic information and then craft a message that’s more likely to appeal to that type. So for someone who’s neurotic, the message would play to fears about a subject. Agreeable people, on the other hand, gravitate toward information about how a given product or idea will benefit society.”

Even IPSOS are now defining themselves as a ‘behavioural data group’, the head of the company, Nicolas Brézet, says, earlier this year“Marketers seek a holistic understanding of consumers’ multi-platform digital behavior, touchpoints, activities, and content consumption. Single-source data can’t tell the whole picture, so new approaches are needed.

This presentation discusses how Ipsos combined survey data with behavioral data, found an actionable framework, and then made client recommendation. Case studies illustrate how they used their approach with five different clients.

The presentation also indicates what’s coming next: appending multiple behavioral sources to survey data for an even more holistic, unified picture that can be done today.”

So this is a research and polling company that is gathering data on citizens, including behavioural data, that may will be used by paying clients. Details of citizens’ psychological and behavioural profiles are being sold as a commodity. To anyone who wants them, apparently.

No-one seemed to mind when David Cameron instituted the Nudge Unit back in 2010. Suddenly people were bandying about the phrase “behavioural change” casually.  I was horrified precisely because of what I saw as the dire implications for democracy, back then – techniques of psychological manipulation in the hands of an authoritarian government. What could possibly go right?

Contemporary behavioural science “aims to exploit our irrationalities” since choice architects – which quickly included government ministers – view us “as manipulable subjects rather than rational agents.” Hardly anyone asked back then who was nudging the nudgers. Few questioned that the government really had our “best interests” at heart. 

It’s only now that we are getting a glimpse of new behavioural economics discipline evolving into forms of social control that make the frightful 20th-century totalitarianism regimes seem like a primitive and crude method of governance by comparison. This all-pervasive control is hidden in plain view. It’s a subtle and stealthy form of totalitarianism. Someone described behavioural science and its various applications as a new “cognitive-military complex” – it originated within intelligence and state security agencies – I think that is an apt description.

The consequences of governments acting upon citizens to meet political aims, and to align behaviours with a totalising neoliberal ideology, turns democracy completely on its head. We are left with a form of inverted totalitarianism, or facade democracy, where direct methods of oppression are not required, as citizens are far easier to control and better “nudged” when they continue to believe themselves free and autonomous. 

Opaque and interrelated operations

Aleksandr Kogan founded Global Science Research in 2014, after the Cambridge university’s psychology department quite properly refused to allow him to use its own pool of data for commercial purposes. The data collection that Kogan undertook independent of the university, where he worked as a lecturer, was done on behalf of a military contractor called Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL). The company’s election division claims to use “data-driven messaging” as part of “delivering electoral success.” 

The purpose of Kogan’s work was to develop an algorithm for the “national profiling capacity of American citizens” as part of SCL’s work on US elections, according to an internal document signed by an SCL employee describing the research. In 2016, In September 2016, Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica’s CEO, said that the company built a model based on “hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Americans” filling out personality surveys, generating a “model to predict the personality of every single adult in the United States of America.” CA, as we know, is a front for SCL.

Lynton Crosby an Jim Messina

Listening to Chris Wylie’s evidence yesterday to the parliamentary committee, I realised that many companies of this ilk (offering PR, data anaysis and segregation, strategic communications, consultancy, behavioural change and ‘conversion’) are probably fronts, shells or opaque partnerships. I researched the Conservatives’ spending on similar companies in the run-up to last year’s general election. Jim Messina, for example, set up a company called Outra, which also employs Lynton Crosby.

The company was hired by the government in the last General Election, along with Messina Inc and the CrosbyTextor Group. You have to wonder what that process is hiding. Outra were paid £120,000.  Crosby Textor (listed as CTF) also earned £4,037,400 for market research/canvassing. Messina Group Inc were also paid £544,153.57 for transport, advertising, market research and canvassing. This company uses data analytics and ‘intelligence’ services(There is a lot more research into the companies used and 

The company conducts “Targeted Ads Programs [….] ensuring precise targeting via Facebook, geo-targeting, zipcodes, IP addresses, and other tactics”. 

The company also says:MGI.png

The Messina Group are in a ‘strategic partnership with Outra serving as one of Outra’s primary advisors on data, analytics, and ‘customer engagement.’

(See alsoWorld leaders across 5 continents trust TMG with the highest stakes in politics.)

British electoral law forbids co-ordination between different campaign groups, which must all comply with strict spending limits. If they plan tactics or co-ordinate together, the organisations must share a cap on spending. (I’ve written more about what private data, communication and advertising companies the government used for their election campaign last year, and the costs here. 

Wylie said yesterday: “When you work in a lot of countries, it is beneficial to have different billing names on invoices… the paperwork looks confined”. The companies share their data with each other, too. If one of those companies breaches data laws, technically, they all do, but by listing front companies with different roles, it isolates a potential problem. On the surface, that is. It’s a mafia-styled co-ordinated franchise.

Subcontracting, ‘strategic partnerships’, alliances and front companies hide the dubious processes these companies use, very well. The way the companies are set up and their interconnected relationships is deliberately confusing. The way governments present them in their expenses declarations is also purposefully opaque. Combobulate, which is listed as a management consultancy, earned £43,200 for research/canvassing and for ‘unsolicited material to electors’, yet I could not find any website for the company.

The director is listed as Nicholas Jack Walton Mason, also listed as the director of Uplifting Data. Mason is also listed as Director of Mason Investment Consultants Limited, which was dissolved via compulsory strike-off .

Wylie said: “AggregateIO was just a money laundering exercise”.

He also said: “You have to remember this is a company that’s gone around the world and undermined democratic institutions in all kinds of countries. They couldn’t care less if their work is compliant because they like to win.”

Money talks, bullshit walks. Welcome to the marketisation of democracy itself.

Wylie continued “It’s not just the data or psyops”, it’s the implications for global democracy.”

However, if it wasn’t for the data mining and psyops, democracy wouldn’t be in such peril. 

From THE BAD BOYS OF BREXIT by Arron Bank, ironically, written with the help of Isabel Oakshott

When asked what Wylie thought the legal implications of a European Company processing raw data on a population at an ISP level were, he basically said that it would be a breech of data protection and privacy laws. Privacy and data protection are part of the Charter of Fundamental Rights in Europe. Being established in Delaware does not exempt you from Data Protection. If Data is processed in Europe then data protection and privacy laws apply. 

Wylie also links SCL to the Home Office Prevent Programme. I bet my entire collection of ‘Behaviourism, theory, practice and how to cover your tracks’ and ‘How tyrants misuse psychology’ that they will be linked to other many Conservative policy programmes too.

You can watch the full parliament evidence session here.

The video below shows a series of some of the key moments.



The government hired several murky companies plying the same methods as Cambridge Analytica in their election campaign

Calibrating Academy- Hubert Huzzah

The revelations about Cambridge Analytica indicate clearly that western governments are subverting democracy



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