What’s Going On?
Alexander Nix, the former chief of the now dissolved political consulting firm of Cambridge Analytica, has been banned from running or participating in any sort of LLC’s in the UK for at least seven years. The UK made the decision based off of the fact Nix allowed and encouraged staff members to offer “unethical services.” Nix was not only in charge of Cambridge Analytica up until 2018, but also five linked companies that had marketed themselves as offering clients “bribery or honey trap stings” and “voter disengagement campaigns,” according to Reuters.
Nix also told Reuters that he had not confirmed any sort of misconduct and was not convicted of breaching any laws, but wanted to close the matter to “avoid an unnecessary, lengthy and expensive court case.” So he did not admit any guilt, but he accepted the punishment anyways? Seems like a strange course of action if you actually know you have not done anything wrong. It is crazy to think it was four years ago that Nix and Cambridge Analytica were impacting the US election greater than most people could imagine with their behavioral microtargeting and yet he still has not been charged for any illegal activity.
Behavioral Microtargeting is data collection and scientific modeling, targeting individuals to sell specific products, services and political ideology. They take your likes, search history, and photos, and specifically tailor certain political or consumer campaigns to shape your online world. Some scholars doubt the effectiveness of behavioral microtargeting, and some say social media became militarized to help manipulate consumers, so it is still up for debate. Behavioral Microtargeting is not the only reason Cambridge Analytica went into liquidation. In fact, lots of companies still exist that will use Behavioral Microtargeting for the upcoming election.
So, Why Did Cambridge Analytica Get In Trouble and Not Other Companies?
The British Government’s Insolvency Service (America’s IRS) started an investigation on Nix and other top executives of Cambridge Analytica and their parent company SCL Elections in 2018 when they stopped trading stock. “The unethical services offered by the companies included bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns,” The British Insolvency Service said in its statement. The British Insolvency Service also stated that Nix’s companies had been doing this for years, causing all of the companies to behave with a lack of “commercial probity.”
Cambridge Analytica also had the misfortune of becoming representative for malicious data collection. There is a Netflix documentary, The Great Hack, made by a former employee named Brittany Kaiser, covering the details of Facebook’s massive data breach of 87 million users taken by Cambridge Analytica in 2014. She is a former senior Cambridge Analytica employee who quit and revealed the inner workings of Cambridge Analytica’s “behavioral microtargeting,” and how much effect the company had on Trump’s 2016 election, Brexit, and much more, causing Cambridge Analytica to become representative of the malicious parts of data collection.