The ability of our free and fearless press to publish whatever it pleases, about whomsoever it chooses to target, and to do so while often being seriously economical with the actualité, is matched only by its ability not to publish that which it finds inconvenient. This latter skill was highlighted not only by the dismissive attitude to phone hacking, but more recently with the highly creative activities of Cambridge Analytica.
Those who look in regularly on Zelo Street will know that the efforts by the Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr had been systematically rubbished by those pundits who did not ignore her efforts, to the point that she was shouted down by mercenary pundit Isabel Oakeshott during a paper review session on The Andy Marr Show™. They will also recall that the Information Commissioner had CA’s offices raided.
What has thus far been kept quiet, however, is What Happened Next. This particular piece in the jigsaw has now been provided by David Carroll, who has noted that one action point following from the ICO’s raid was “A criminal prosecution for SCL Elections Ltd for failing to properly deal with the ICO’s Enforcement Notice”. He adds “Anticipating some news on this tomorrow”. That was two days ago. So what happened yesterday?
Well, the media establishment may not have seen fit to let its consumer base into the secret, but Prof Carroll had no problem in putting the information out there. “Defence entered a Not Guilty plea this morning in Westminster Magistrate[s] Court. Trial is set for January 2019”. A party to the 2016 EU referendum misbehaviour was represented in court yesterday morning, and the press, plus the broadcasters, were not.
What is Carroll’s involvement? As Wired has told, “Carroll filed a request for this data in January of 2017 under British data protection law [from SCL Elections Ltd], and received a response in March of that year that the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham describes in the order as ‘wholly inadequate.’ Now, Denham is requiring SCL to comply with the request, or face criminal charges”. He explains why this is serious.
“It’s a criminal act in the UK to defy the Information Commissioner’s specific order to comply with data protection law”. He also muses “A ‘defunct’ company sure seems willing to spend its allegedly sparse resources going to trial against the data cops for refusing to hand over all the personal data it collected about me. What are they hiding? Will their creditors tolerate this?” A potential cover-up - meat and drink to the press.
But all we hear is silence. As Carroll puts it, “I know a lot's going on but this is notable news that won't cut through the noise: UK's data cops are proceeding with criminal prosecution from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Trial set for early January 2019”. Because it’s not just about him. Wired also notes “Long before the name Cambridge Analytica became notorious in households across the country … Carroll, a professor of media design at Parsons School of Design in Manhattan, became suspicious about the way the company built its so-called psychographic profiles of US voters”.
There was more. “In mid-March, the same day Facebook announced it was suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from its platform as punishment for their transgressions, Carroll filed a request for disclosure in the UK in an attempt to force SCL to hand over the underlying data and answer a litany of questions about how they were being used”. SCL had been seriously evasive over Carroll’s request.
“SCL repeatedly argued that as an US citizen, Carroll had no right to request his data under British laws, going so far as to write in one response that Carroll had no more data access rights in the UK ‘than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in the remotest corner of Afghanistan.’” Well, David Carroll does have those data access rights. And so do potentially many millions of Britons. That’s why this is important.
It is also why the media silence over the trial is at the very least suspicious, and at worst totally inexcusable. Strange that whenever the subject comes close to potentially seriously dodgy dealing around the EU referendum, the media establishment clams up.
Is this more than mere coincidence? You may well ask that - I couldn’t possibly comment.
Enjoy your visit to Zelo Street? You can help this truly independent blog carry on talking truth to power, while retaining its sense of humour, by adding to its Just Giving page at