Australian Parties Deny Using Data Firm Cambridge Analytica

The company registered an Australian office in Maroubra in 2015.

Last year in April, senior representatives from Cambridge Analytica came to Australia to address a data-driven advertising conference.

They also met with a Turnbull government minister, Dan Tehan, who was then the minister responsible for cybersecurity.

An advisor to Mr Tehan told SBS News the minister attended a “private dinner” with the executives but was not acting in his role as a minister.

At the time, federal Liberal Party Director Tony Nutt told Reuters: “Senior Liberals will be talking to [Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander] Nix and the Cambridge Analytica team while they’re out here in Australia, and will be interested to talk with them about their capacities and what they’re offering people in the Australian political system.”

Cambridge Analytica’s managing director of political operations Mark Turnbull confirmed the company’s Australian ambitions in a secret recording aired in a recent Channel 4 expose.

“We’ve done it in Mexico, we’ve done it in Malaysia, we’re now moving into Brazil, Australia, China,” Mr Turnbull said in the video.

Cambridge Analytica is accused of harvesting the data of Facebook users without their knowledge.

 

The company’s Australian operations were raised in Question Time on Monday afternoon.

Labor Senator Don Farrell questioned communications minister Mitch Fifield over the alleged meeting with senior Liberals.

“Can the minister assure the Senate that any improperly obtained private information about Australian Facebook users will not be exploited by Australian political parties?” he asked.

Senator Fifield replied: “I can’t give any assurances about what the Australian Labor Party may do in terms of the data that they hold or, for that matter, how the Australian Labor Party obtained their data. And, while it doesn’t fall within my portfolio responsibilities.”

Facebook

“What I can say is that the Liberal Party always complies with relevant law.”

A federal Liberal Party spokesman released a statement denying any involvement with the company.

“We are not using Cambridge Analytica,” the spokesman said.

Labor senator Kristina Keneally described the company as a “shady operator”, telling Fairfax Media it should not be involved in Australian politics.

Source