Today is a quiet day for a select band of media folk; those who claimed that the Cambridge Analytica scandal, along with the wrongdoing in the various EU referendum Leave campaigns, was not a story are now keeping their heads down and hoping no-one notices. Because the news overnight from the Information Commissioner’s Office shows that it most certainly was, and continues to be, a story.
As the BBC has reported, “The UK's data protection watchdog intends to fine Facebook £500,000 for data breaches - the maximum allowed … The Information Commissioner's Office said Facebook had failed to ensure another company - Cambridge Analytica - had deleted users' data … The ICO will also bring a criminal action against Cambridge Analytica's defunct parent company SCL Elections”.
Matthew Elliott: silent this morning
There was one more snippet of highly relevant news: “The ICO also said another company - Aggregate IQ - which worked with the Vote Leave campaign in the run up to the EU Referendum - must stop processing UK citizens' data”. That’s the same Vote Leave campaign that has used the BBC to spin its pre-buttal of bad news from the Electoral Commission. And that fine levied on Facebook could have been a lot larger.
Isabel Oakeshott: silent this morning
As the Guardian has explained, “Because of the timing of the breaches, the ICO said it was unable to levy the penalties introduced by the European General Data Protection (GDPR), which caps fines at the higher level of €20m (£17m) or 4% of global turnover – in Facebook’s case, $1.9bn (£1.4bn). The £500,000 cap was set by the Data Protection Act 1998”. Put directly, several people’s actions have been vindicated by this news.
Zelo Street has covered this story from the beginning, but right now, the ones at the real front end of the investigation can speak for themselves. Those like whistleblower Shahmir Sanni, viciously outed by a Downing Street aide, who asked “It’s happening. Time to bring out all the tweets and articles from all those people (including journalists and politicians) that called @chrisinsilico a liar and a con. Where you all at now?”
The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr was another on the receiving end of sneering ridicule. She, too, was vindicated: “So, the cat is officially out of the bag. Tomorrow’s ICO’s report on FT front page. Maximum possible fine for Facebook. Criminal enforcement against Cambridge Analytica. Huge investigation ongoing into MULTIPLE crimes potentially committed in referendum. The ICO is bringing it”. There was more.
“There’s A LOT that’s of significance here for both US & UK. Massive Facebook fail that has huge ramifications for Trump campaign’s use of data. And Vote Leave’s data firm, AIQ, that was absolutely CENTRAL to 4 campaigns is BANNED from handling UK data. And that’s just the start”. There was also a word from Peter Jukes of Byline Media.
“Let's just list some of these unicorns @afneil @IsabelOakeshott @MarkDiStef 1. Facebook/Cambridge Analytica - yes vindicated 2. Leave EU - recommendation for CPS 3. Vote Leave - various counts of illegality Over 18 months Carole has been trolled, derided, dismissed”. Di Stefano wondered why he had been tagged.
“Wait, how did I get pulled into this?” he exclaimed, only for Jukes to put him straight. “Your main job seems to be reporting on Observer corrections to Carole's stories, no?”
Carole Cadwalladr: not silent this morning
To give Di Stefano his due, he has Tweeted out the story extensively overnight, and fair play to him for that. Sadly, though, mercenary hack Isabel Oakeshott, who shouted down Ms Cadwalladr on The Andy Marr Show™, has thus far been silent, as has BBC presenter Andrew Neil. And as for the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who called Ms Cadwalladr “Carole Codswallop” - yes, silence.
No brill excuses. Or even Brillo ones
The Great Guido also portrayed Jukes as wearing a tinfoil hat, and on more than one occasion. Anyone would think that they, along with Neil and Ms Oakeshott, had a problem with organisations like Vote Leave being caught cheating.
Were there others in the band of naysayers? Shahmir Sanni is already on the case. “I’m gathering pics of all those journalists and politicians that shut down the Vote Leave story before they all saw the evidence. We need to call out those that choose to silence the truth” he has told. A new edition of Guilty Men (and women) is clearly in preparation.
And not even a waffer thin excuse from The Great Guido
The EU referendum was won by cheating. It should concern all who cherish democracy.