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Text house of Commons
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Oral evidence: Fake News, HC 363
Tuesday 17 April 2018
Ordered by the House of Commons to be published on 17 April 2018.
Watch the meeting
Members present: Damian Collins (Chair); Julie Elliott; Paul Farrelly; Simon
Hart; Julian Knight; Ian C. Lucas; Christian Matheson; Brendan O'Hara; Jo
Stevens; Giles Watling.
I: Brittany Kaiser, former Director of Program Development, Cambridge
Examination of witness
Witness: Brittany Kaiser.
Q1462 Chair: Good morning. Welcome to this further session of the Digital,
Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee as part of our ongoing
investigation into disinformation and fake news. I am very pleased to
welcome Brittany Kaiser to give evidence to the Committee this morning.
Brittany has also supplied the Committee with some written evidence,
which we have formally agreed to publish and is now available on the
Committee website. It includes Brittany Kaiser's written statement and
some other supporting documents. There are also some emails which
Britany Kaiser has given to us. We need to do a bit of work on those to
remove some of the personal data that is contained in that document,
giving personal email addresses and the like. We have agreed that we will
publish those emails separately as soon as we have had the chance to
prepare them and put them in a format where we can publish them. The
bulk of that written evidence is now available for people to view online. I
am sure we will be referring to that evidence and the emails during the
course of our discussions this morning.
For the benefit of the Committee and the record, Brittany Kaiser, can you
give us an insight into how you came to work for Cambridge Analytica
and SCL and the way in which the company was structured and work was
conducted through those companies?
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Brittany Kaiser: Of course, good morning, Chairman and hon. Members.
Firstly, I want to thank you for this opportunity to bear witness to the
inquiry on fake news. As a believer in truth, universal human rights and
democracy, I understand that fake news undermines these ideals and
much of what we stand for and hold dear. It is evidence of a much deeper
We have spent too many years using technology to take advantage of
people's openness and good will, and I will not stand by any longer to
observe this privileged abuse of power, intentionally or unintentionally. I
want to help shed light in these dark places and to help people be more
responsible in their actions, which is why I spoke out originally and why I
have returned to the UK willingly and at my own expense to give
testimony to this inquiry.
Short background about myself: I was born in Houston, Texas and raised
in Chicago. I went to high school at Phillips Academy, Andover outside
Boston before moving to the United Kingdom to attend Edinburgh
University to pursue some of my life-long passions: human rights and
international relations. During my academic studies I volunteered on the
presidential campaigns of Howard Dean and John Kerry, as well as the
senatorial campaign of then State Senator Barack Obama, before later
joining a small new media team on his presidential campaign, which is of
note because as part of that team I was part of the first-time use of social
media in political communications.
I spent several years working on human rights projects around the world,
first for Amnesty International, and then lobbying at the United Nations
and the European Parliament, specifically on stopping crimes against
humanity and abuses of power.
Q1463 Chair: Sorry, if I can stop you there, I appreciate that background detail;
a lot of it is included in your written statement, which we have read and
published as well. I think we can probably move on to your starting work
at Cambridge Analytica and your work there.
Brittany Kaiser: Of course. I first met Alexander Nix when I was working
for Democrats Abroad in London—I think it was 2013. Friends of ours
thought it would be a good joke to introduce us, as he was consulting for
the Republican party, while I was a registered Democrat—I still am today.
He was very interested in learning more about my experience with the
Democrats, as he was running a political consultancy, which was very well
known at the time. He gave me his card and said, "Let me get you drunk
and steal your secrets." I did not call him at the time. But we met
coincidentally a few more times after that, and in December 2014 he
offered me a job. I wanted to find a way to be more effective in
campaigning and in social change projects. His firm, Strategic
Communication Laboratories—the SCL Group—boasted of scientifically
valid methods of measuring effectiveness in communications. I have
always wanted to use this power for good, not ill. The first project I
worked on with SCL was designing a communications campaign to drive
engagement with the reconstruction of Ebola-stricken countries.
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I began with the SCL Group on a part-time basis in December 2014. My
job title was left to me. I called myself "special adviser". I later became a
full-time employee in February 2015. My title was "director of business
development". As a person who is really an over-glorified salesgirl, these
titles tend to be slightly inflated. I was later called "director of business
development" at the request of my superiors.
Q1464 Chair: When you were employed at Cambridge Analytica, were you
employed as a staff contractor or as a consultant?
Brittany Kaiser: I was a consultant when I first started and then I was a
full-time permanent employee from February 2015.
Q1465 Chair: Okay, so from a UK basis you paid income tax through the
company and you were on a regular full-time contract?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, until January of this year.
Q1466 Chair: In January, did you leave the company completely, or did you
leave your full-time role but continue to do some part-time or
consultancy work for them?
Brittany Kaiser: I left my full-time role at the company, hoping to come
on as a consultant and we were not able to agree anything, so I have not
been paid or been a part of the company since January.
Q1467 Chair: So you have not received any money at all from them since
Brittany Kaiser: No.
Q1468 Chair: In terms of your change of status from a full-time role, that ended
in January, while you sought to explore working as a consultant. That
ultimately went nowhere and you were not working on any projects at
Brittany Kaiser: That is correct. At no time was I part of the executive
leadership or top management of the SCL Group or Cambridge Analytica,
although I wanted to be. I really believe that I contributed hugely to the
success of the company. I was never an officer of the board of any of the
companies. I was also not a data scientist and never had access to any
data sets, let alone the controversial data sets I hope to explore today.
Since I left, I have been learning just how many secrets the management
team was keeping me out of—looking back with fresh eyes at the emails I
was copied into and other documents with the benefit of hindsight.
My job at Cambridge Analytica was primarily to meet potential clients,
hear what they wanted and required, and then to brief the operations
team in order to produce a sales proposal, often under the guidance of
senior management and executives, such as CEO Alexander Nix, CFO and
COO Julian Wheatland, and chief data officer, Dr Alexander Taylor. I had
access to company materials on products and services, the account
management in those teams and data on potential and current clients. My
testimony today is informed by what I witnessed and experienced during
my time at Cambridge Analytica and the SCL Group, and materials I
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worked on or was copied into. When I originally spoke to The Guardian in
March of this year, I provided relevant documents from my Cambridge
Analytica inbox, which I was subsequently locked out of. But I later found
an offline copy of my SCL Group inbox, with further materials that have
been provided to the Committee today.
Q1469 Chair: Thank you very much for that. Could you explain a little about the
way in which SCL works as a group of companies? We have had some
evidence that everything is SCL and that Cambridge Analytica is really
just a fascia—that no one really works for it, everyone works for SCL. It
is just another brass plate behind which work is done, and there are lots
of other entities like that. Is that a fair reflection, based on your
experience, of how the company works?
Brittany Kaiser: I was never privy to the full company structure, perhaps
for reasons that have now become known to the Committee. But it was my
understanding when I joined the SCL Group that it was a parent company
of a few different divisions. One would be SCL Commercial, SCL Elections,
SCL Defence, SCL Social, and then Cambridge Analytica, which I
understood was the US-acting subsidiary that was created with new
investment in order to explore advanced data science methods.
Q1470 Chair: Would you say that your sense of the organisation was that it was
effectively one organisation that had different divisions that worked on
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, most staff were shared between the companies. I
don't believe that anyone was even ever employed directly by Cambridge
Analytica. We had another subsidiary called SCL USA, which was the
contracting entity in the United States.
Q1471 Chair: What can you tell us about Emerdata? Is that a new project being
funded through SCL or is it something completely different?
Brittany Kaiser: The first time I heard the word Emerdata was in the
press. I believe that that was in relation to the private raise that my
executives were undertaking for investment, which was closed in January.
They created a new holding company structure. I never knew what the
name of that structure was until I saw that in the press. I do assume that
was the same entity that I had heard about.
Q1472 Chair: Do you believe it was a new vehicle through which they were
raising money in order to launch new businesses? Would that be fair?
Brittany Kaiser: I thought it was specifically to invest in the development
of Cambridge Analytica and the SCL Group.
Q1473 Chair: Could you tell us a little about where else in the world you have
worked? We may later have some more detailed questions about specific
areas, but could you just give us a sense of which countries that you
have worked in or that you know SCL worked in during your time there?
Brittany Kaiser: The only countries that I worked in for Cambridge
Analytica were the United Kingdom, the United States and Mexico. I
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worked on projects in other countries, or on winning contracts for those
projects in countries in Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America, but I was
never physically present as part of the campaign team, due to the nature
of my business development role.
Q1474 Chair: Can you say which specific countries?
Brittany Kaiser: Of course. First, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Malaysia; I
have already said Mexico. Most other places were a pitch, where I don't
believe that I contributed to work that was ever really undertaken.
Ethiopia was also just a pitch, not work that was undertaken. I did spend
quite a long time on commercial business development in the United
States, which was my main focus for the latter half of my time with the
Q1475 Chair: Did you work in Malta?
Brittany Kaiser: No.
Q1476 Chair: Are you aware that Cambridge Analytica or SCL worked in Malta?
Brittany Kaiser: No, sir.
Q1477 Chair: Or Israel?
Brittany Kaiser: No, sir.
Q1478 Chair: People have asked whether there was work done with Germany.
Brittany Kaiser: Oh. I was part of preparing a pitch with Germany for
political work, which was never undertaken, and for a variety of
commercial projects, some of which were contracted for.
Q1479 Chair: Who was that pitch directed to?
Brittany Kaiser: The CDU.
Q1480 Chair: To the CDU?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1481 Chair: And in France? Was there any work related to the French
Brittany Kaiser: I did go there with Alexander Nix—I can't remember; it
must have been in 2015 at some point—to explore partnering with a
consultancy firm there. In the end, similar to Germany, they said that
using data for political communications was not advisable in that work.
Q1482 Chair: Or legal.
Brittany Kaiser: They were not interested in pursuing further work
Q1483 Chair: Was it advisable or legal, in their words?
Brittany Kaiser: They said that if the use of data—which was legal—in a
variety of different ways for political communications after an opt-in were
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found out by the press, they would probably lose business over that, and
were not interested in putting at risk the rest of their work that they were
Q1484 Chair: But as you know, under European data protection law there are
already quite strict rules around holding data relating to people's political
affiliations and opinions. There are restrictions on doing that outside
Brittany Kaiser: Of course, yes.
Q1485 Chair: I'm sure you saw the Channel 4 investigation into Cambridge
Analytica, or had the chance to watch it on catch-up. They talk about
ghosting in and out of countries: setting up shadow companies and then
closing them down after elections. Does that tally with your experience?
Brittany Kaiser: No, not at all. It is incredibly shocking how far
sometimes a sales pitch could go through to suggesting things that I
believe are illegal or at least quite shadowy. I have never heard most of
what was uttered on those videos ever before in any meeting that I have
been a part of, nor was I aware or had any inkling that that might have
been suggested when I was not present.
Q1486 Julie Elliott: You mentioned eastern Europe in passing. That came out in
the Channel 4 recording. What work are you aware of that was done in
the Czech Republic?
Brittany Kaiser: I was not a part of any pitches in the Czech Republic. I
do remember it maybe being mentioned in a sales call once but I was not
a part of that.
Q1487 Julie Elliott: But are you aware that Cambridge Analytica were working
in the Czech Republic?
Brittany Kaiser: Were we? I have no idea. Sorry about that.
Q1488 Julie Elliott: So you wouldn't know who they would be working for
Brittany Kaiser: No.
Q1489 Julie Elliott: The other place that I am interested in is Argentina. Are
you aware of any work that was done in Argentina?
Brittany Kaiser: The first commercial project I was ever aware of was in
Argentina for an agricultural company that was mostly communications
and branding. I also was very well aware of political pitches being
undertaken in Argentina, although I do not believe any work was ever
Q1490 Julie Elliott: Who were the pitches to?
Brittany Kaiser: To the current President.
Q1491 Brendan O'Hara: You were director of programme development at
Cambridge Analytica between 2014 and 2018. Where were you
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Brittany Kaiser: For the first six or seven months I was based out of our
London headquarters, which at the time was in Yarmouth Place in Mayfair.
Then I moved to our office in Alexandria, Virginia for about nine months,
and then to our office in New York for nine months. Since last August I
have been based in Mexico City until this past January, when I left the
Q1492 Brendan O'Hara: On 27 February in front of this Committee Alexander
Nix said: "I have been with the company for about 14 years and I have
never worked on a campaign in the UK". Is that your understanding?
Brittany Kaiser: I don't believe that before our involvement with the
Leave.EU campaign that Cambridge Analytica or the SCL Group ever
undertook any political work in the United Kingdom. But in September
2015, I believe, we began conversational engagements at first with
Leave.EU and the UK Independence party—
Q1493 Brendan O'Hara: Excuse me for interrupting. So, as the director of
Cambridge Analytica or SCL, you were unaware of that. Looking at the
website, it says: "SCL Elections has worked on three UK election
campaigns over the past 15 years. During the first of these elections, SCL
was contracted to undertake advanced behavioural polling and Target
Audience Analysis, and was subsequently credited as being the only
agency to correctly predict the outcome of that General Election. For the
two subsequent elections, SCL Elections provided campaign consultancy
and strategic guidance for specific candidates." Are you utterly unaware
Brittany Kaiser: That was brought to my attention and I do not believe
any of that is true. It was likely put on there as sales material to back up
the fact that we were worthy of being hired for the Leave.EU campaign.
Q1494 Brendan O'Hara: So you, in your position as a director of a company,
are saying that what was on the company's website is complete lies?
Brittany Kaiser: It could be. Just to differentiate between my directorship
and an actual director of the company, I was a glorified sales person. I
never held an actual company directorship. Nor was I privy to any
management meetings or any higher-level executive authority.
Q1495 Brendan O'Hara: It appears to me that these are quite specific boasts.
For this to be a complete fabrication—to be, as you say, a complete
tissue of lies—I don't want to put words in your mouth, but are you
telling me that this is a complete tissue of lies?
Brittany Kaiser: I have never pitched that to absolutely anybody. It was
not on our website when I was engaged with Leave.EU. To Arron Banks,
Andy Wigmore, Liz Bilney, Matthew Richardson—to everybody I was
pitching—I said that we had never undertaken work in the United
Kingdom, which I believed to be true. I have seen that before, and I
believe it is a cached version of an old website that was never live, or was
never live when I was pitching on behalf of the company.
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Q1496 Brendan O'Hara: How would you describe a company that then
promotes itself as having worked in three UK elections, having advanced
behavioural polling analysis, and worked for two subsequent elections,
even down to the level of providing guidance for specific candidates?
Brittany Kaiser: I don't believe that was ever actually claimed. If it was
put up on a website, I have never seen that live—but I have been shown
that piece of paper before.
Q1497 Brendan O'Hara: So you believe Alexander Nix when he says, "I have
been with the company for about 14 years and I have never worked on a
campaign in the UK", despite the company itself claiming to have worked
extensively in the United Kingdom.
Brittany Kaiser: I am not sure that a cached version of an old website is
an actual claim, but I do know that we have been in pitches and
negotiations with UK parties in the past, such as the SNP.
Q1498 Brendan O'Hara: Well, I will leave you to follow that particular stag into
the forest, then. Please, feel free.
Brittany Kaiser: I was not a part of those pitches or negotiations. I was
based in Washington DC at the time.
Q1499 Brendan O'Hara: You've told me categorically that that's not true. You
then tell me that you have pitched work for the SNP but then tell me that
you know nothing about it.
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that there were meetings that took place in
London, where individuals came down from Edinburgh to visit us at our
Mayfair headquarters. Then further meetings were undertaken in
Edinburgh, near the Parliament.
Q1500 Brendan O'Hara: And do you know the individuals concerned? Do you
know what the pitch was?
Brittany Kaiser: I could probably look through old emails and find some
names for you and submit that after this inquiry.
Q1501 Brendan O'Hara: There was no work done at any UK elections for any
political party, but you suddenly have a memory of meetings that you
were at and meetings with the SNP—is that right?
Brittany Kaiser: Pitches are very different from work undertaken. I would
like to correct that by saying that I do believe work was undertaken for a
party, and that was the UK Independence party—a small piece of work
that was meant to support the Leave.EU campaign during the Brexit
Chair: We will come to that shortly.
Q1502 Brendan O'Hara: Wrapping up, Christopher Wylie said he knew that
Cambridge Analytica had pitched for work in the 2014 Scottish
independence referendum, but he does not know what came of it. Do
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Brittany Kaiser: I don't believe that any work was actually undertaken.
Q1503 Brendan O'Hara: Do you know what was pitched for and from whom?
Brittany Kaiser: It would have been for research modelling and targeted
communications within Scotland and for individuals who had the right to
Q1504 Brendan O'Hara: Obviously they would have the right to vote, but I am
asking, do you know which organisations you pitched for work from?
Brittany Kaiser: I don't know, but I could try to find that out for you,
because I do have a significant amount of emails and documentation from
Brendan O'Hara: I'll leave it there and maybe return later.
Q1505 Chair: You have mentioned a wide range of projects and pitches. Who
typically is involved in introducing Cambridge Analytica to meet new
Brittany Kaiser: Either it would be somebody internally within the
company—we had a lot of people who worked in business development or
project management who were specifically hired because of their global
network of individuals. We also had, I would say, a kind of roster of
consultants to the SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica who were based
globally. Some of them would represent us in a part-time capacity and be
the local SCL Group office, and some of those individuals would only work
for commissions of contracts that they introduced and had no time
commitment to the company. So, introductions would usually come from
individuals that had contractual agreement with SCL Group and Cambridge
Q1506 Chair: I just want to try and personalise it a little bit more. You have
mentioned UKIP and Leave.EU. Who introduced, say, Arron Banks to
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that introduction came from Steve Bannon,
who sat on our board at the time.
Q1507 Chair: Among some of the other countries you have mentioned, you
mentioned France. Which political organisation were you pitching to in
Brittany Kaiser: Originally it was to Sarkozy's campaign. That was before
I started at the company, and I remember that Alexander used to tell the
story of how he pitched him and they said that they were going to win—
and then lost—the election, so we returned again to pitch to the newly
branded Les Republicans.
Q1508 Chair: And in Lithuania, which political party were you working for?
Brittany Kaiser: That was for a mayoral campaign in Vilnius. I can't
remember the pronunciation or the exact name of the party itself.
Q1509 Chair: And in Mexico?
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Brittany Kaiser: In Mexico, it was for the party that is currently in
Q1510 Paul Farrelly: Colleagues have got lots of questions in a few moments
about Leave.EU and the work—unpaid—that was done. But for me, as
well as your statement about Emerdata, it is a moving story, where
revelations are coming from different sources at all times. When we
interviewed Alexander Nix, the line of questioning, because of the
knowledge at the time, was focused on Leave.EU, and then we had
subsequent revelations about AggregateIQ and its involvement and
connections with SCL, Cambridge Analytica—the whole group. I just
wanted to ask you a few questions about that, because my abiding
impression after interviewing Mr Nix is that he left all that bit out and that
we were rather blindsided. Have you watched that interview?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, I have.
Q1511 Paul Farrelly: Do you think I am right to feel blindsided a little bit?
Brittany Kaiser: I think that you are right to feel that there was some
information that was left out, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Q1512 Paul Farrelly: Clearly, there is a difference between what happened,
what work was really done, and the bullshit of sales pitches that you have
described. You say in your evidence: "I should emphasise that the
Kogan/GSR datasets and questionnaires were not the only Facebook-
connected questionnaires and datasets which Cambridge Analytica
used...But I believe it is almost certain that the number of Facebook users
whose data was compromised through routes similar to that used by
Kogan is much greater than 87 million; and that both Cambridge
Analytica and other unconnected companies and campaigns were
involved in these activities." Can you expand a little on that, please?
Brittany Kaiser: Of course. When I first joined the company, our creative
and psychology teams and data science teams worked together to design
some of these questionnaires. So I am aware now of what the
questionnaire was that Professor Kogan used, although I didn't know
about it when I joined the company.
I would see questionnaires. For example, there was one called the "sex
compass", to find out what your personal preferences were privately, and
then there was another one on your "music personality". In my pitches, I
used to give examples, even to clients, that if you go on Facebook and see
these viral personality quizzes, not all of them would have been designed
by Cambridge Analytica, SCL Group or our affiliates, but that these
applications were designed specifically to harvest data from individuals
using Facebook as the tool.
I know at least of those two examples—the music version and the "sex
compass"—which were both quizzes that were separate from Aleksandr
Kogan's quiz. Therefore, it can be inferred or implied that there were many
additional individuals, as opposed to just the ones through Aleksandr
Kogan's test, whose data may have been compromised.
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Q1513 Paul Farrelly: It seems blindingly obvious, but we need to search for the
evidence. If you have gathered this tremendous data set because you
have had access not only to respondees but to their friends and their
likes through Facebook, and you have developed this for the US, then if
this trick works, you would want to replicate it for other markets that you
were pitching for work in, would you not?
Brittany Kaiser: That was the idea, although in Europe it is quite difficult
due to the data protection laws.
Q1514 Paul Farrelly: If you observe them?
Brittany Kaiser: Correct.
Q1515 Paul Farrelly: Could you describe what knowledge you have about
AggregateIQ and how it operated under the SCL umbrella?
Brittany Kaiser: Of course. It was my understanding when I joined the
company that AggregateIQ was our exclusive digital and data engineering
partner. They would build our software, such as a platform that we
designed for Senator Ted Cruz's campaign. That was meant to collect data
for canvassing individuals who would go door to door collecting and
hygiening data of individuals in those households. We also had no internal
digital capacity at the time, so we did not actually undertake any of our
digital campaigns. That was done exclusively through AggregateIQ.
Through the rollercoaster of Senator Cruz's campaign and engagements
with the consultants who were working on it, I believed that our
relationship with AggregateIQ became strained. They did not turn in work
to us on time. Our clients were not always happy with their performance
and we therefore stopped working with them. Subsequently, we have
heard in the press and from other individuals that some of our board
members might have had ownership of AggregateIQ, which I was not
aware of at all.
Q1516 Paul Farrelly: When did you think or consider that the group had
stopped working with AggregateIQ?
Brittany Kaiser: Probably late 2015 was when issues became quite
strained, when the campaign ramped up and we were near the end of the
Q1517 Paul Farrelly: We have had a series of documents and testimonies from
Mr Wylie that allege that AggregateIQ was part of the SCL-CA umbrella,
did extensive work for Vote Leave and was paid a large sum of money for
Brittany Kaiser: I have seen that and his testimony could be exactly
correct. I had no knowledge of that type of relationship with AIQ and I
actually have never met Chris Wylie. He was no longer with the company
when I joined and I believed that he was a consultant, sometimes referred
to as SCL Canada, that was based in Canada, working full time for
Q1518 Paul Farrelly: Before and during the referendum campaign here, what
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was your state of awareness of any work that was being done by the
group, including AggregatelQ, for Vote Leave?
Brittany Kaiser: My only interaction with Vote Leave was that I was
supposed to have a meeting with Matthew Elliott two days after my first
meeting with Arron Banks. That meeting was cancelled after he found out
that we had a meeting with executives from Leave.EU, so I never met
anybody from Vote Leave and I did not know that AIQ, whom I did not
think we were working with at the time anyway—nor did I think we had
joint investors or owners of our companies—was pitching for that work or
undertaking any of that work.
Q1519 Paul Farrelly: So while you were there—and you were there until early
this year—you were not aware of any talk, chatter or boasts within the
company at the time SCL Cambridge Analytica were doing extensive work
with AggregateIQ within their umbrella for Vote Leave?
Brittany Kaiser: I wish that I was. It sounds like we probably were
working very closely, but I was not involved in US politics at that point.
Q1520 Paul Farrelly: UK?
Brittany Kaiser: Well—
Paul Farrelly: It was a UK referendum. The United States was not leaving
Brittany Kaiser: Of course, but Cambridge Analytica and the joint
ownership of Aggregate IQ was based out of our US companies and
Chair: One of your associates is handing you a piece of paper. We are
happy to give you a moment to look at it before Mr Farrelly resumes his
questions, if that would be helpful.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. Of course, I cannot speak for SCL Canada and their
relationship with Aggregate IQ, or about documents I am not privy to.
Q1521 Paul Farrelly: So what were you doing in the group at the time of the
referendum in the UK? You were pitching elsewhere, were you?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. I was between Washington, DC and London. I was
undertaking a series of pitches for Leave.EU, the UK Independence party,
and Eldon and GoSkippy Insurance.
Q1522 Paul Farrelly: But you were left out of any work with Vote Leave. That
Brittany Kaiser: Well, Vote Leave was technically the competition to
Leave.EU. So upon engaging with Leave.EU I was not supposed to be
meeting with Vote Leave, because we were in competition with them for
the designation from the Electoral Commission.
Q1523 Paul Farrelly: So it seems there was a Chinese wall operating within the
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Brittany Kaiser: It sounds like there was.
Q1524 Paul Farrelly: But you didn't know about it?
Brittany Kaiser: No, sir.
Q1525 Chair: I just want to pick up one thing that you mentioned there, which
was the other personality surveys that Cambridge Analytica ran on
Facebook. We touched on that with Alexander Nix last time around, and
he said that those surveys where there was a Facebook login at the end
to complete the survey did not mean that your personal data was then
being accessed by Cambridge Analytica. But you are saying that that was
not the case—that actually the purpose of the survey was to gather this
information and that by completing it with your Facebook login,
Cambridge Analytica will also get access to your data on Facebook.
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that was the point of the quizzes in the first
Chair: That does sound like the point of it, but that is totally different
from what Alexander Nix said to us.
Q1526 Ian C. Lucas: Did you know at the time that you were pitching to
Leave.EU that Cambridge Analytica was also pitching to Vote Leave?
Brittany Kaiser: I knew that I had a meeting that was meant to take
place after Leave.EU, so that I could also explore work with Vote Leave,
but, as I said, that meeting was cancelled and I didn't know that there
were any further engagements with Vote Leave until Mr Arron Banks made
it clear that he was not interested in paying us for any of the work that we
had either already undertaken or proposed to undertake. So I do believe
that some of my executives re-engaged in talks with Vote Leave, but at
the time I was no longer involved in that.
Q1527 Ian C. Lucas: Did you know that Cambridge Analytica had an agreement
with AIQ to transfer data?
Brittany Kaiser: We would have had that, because that would have been
essential to our work on Senator Ted Cruz's presidential campaign. But I
was under the impression that AIQ did not fulfil its contractual obligations
to our client and therefore we were no longer working with them. I
remember many angry phone calls back and forth between AIQ and our
internal staff, that tensions were very tight, and that we decided instead
to hire our own data engineers and our own internal digital team, and
build out internal capacity, so that we no longer had to rely on them.
Q1528 Ian C. Lucas: Can you confirm that Cambridge Analytica transferred
data to AIQ?
Brittany Kaiser: What I can say is that the essential relationship between
AIQ and Cambridge Analytica—or the SCL Group—was that AIQ had built
platforms that we used to collect data, so we would have had to transfer
data between ourselves for us to access that; and that they also ran our
digital campaigns for a while, not just for Senator Ted Cruz, but for other
clients—political, commercial and social. So we would have had to transfer
house of Commons
data back to them for them to use those lists for digital targeting. I believe
that by the essential nature of that relationship, that would have been a
Q1529 Ian C. Lucas: Of course, once data is transferred to AIQ, they have the
data from Cambridge Analytica. So they could use Cambridge Analytica
data to pursue their relationship with Vote Leave.
Brittany Kaiser: They could have done, but likely in contravention to the
contracts that we originally signed with them—although I am not privy to
those contracts, so I can't be sure.
Q1530 Chair: On a point of clarification, you mentioned Chris Wylie worked for
Brittany Kaiser: That was the name used for—I don't know him as an
individual or the AIQ office. That was considered SCL Canada. Our
company tended to have a business model where we would partner with
another company, and that company would represent us as SCL Germany
or SCL USA. That was the model.
Q1531 Chair: So, as far as you are concerned, SCL Canada and AIQ are the
Brittany Kaiser: I believe so, yes.
Q1532 Chair: Do you believe Chris Wylie was working for AIQ if he was also
working for SCL Canada?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, I believe that SCL Canada was just a glorified title,
but he was full time engaged with AIQ.
Q1533 Simon Hart: Sticking with the referendum theme for a moment and
dealing more specifically with Leave.EU, once the pitch was successful,
what was the actual level of work involved between Cambridge Analytica
and Leave.EU? What was the scope of the work?
Brittany Kaiser: When I first began engagement with Leave.EU we had
parallel discussions going on on what became—
Q1534 Simon Hart: You pitched for the work yourself?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, myself and our CFO and COO, Julian Wheatland,
who is the current acting CEO, and a senior data scientist and usually a
psychologist would be in the room as well, or one of our researchers. We
were undertaking parallel pitches for Leave.EU, the UK Independence
party and Eldon and GoSkippy Insurance. Those proposals at first were all
preliminary. The one for Leave.EU and the UK Independence party
included taking receipt of data and matching that data with researcher
survey data and then modelling it so that we could find the different
personality types of individuals that would be most likely to engage with
the messaging for Leave.EU. That was specifically for individuals that
would be interested in voting to leave in the referendum, and for the UK
Independence party it was obviously similar, as that is the nature of the
house of Commons
When we first started talking to Leave.EU they did not have much data to
speak of because it was very much in the beginning of the campaign. So,
in parallel, we were in talks with the UK Independence party where we
believed that their membership data would be quite indicative of
individuals that were interested in the UK leaving the European Union. It
was decided that, while Leave.EU did not possess much data, we could
begin with an engagement for the UK Independence party, which we did.
We took receipt of their membership data and survey data. There was a
survey among their members of different reasons why people might be
interested in the UK leaving the European Union and what the benefits or
consequences might be. That survey data was matched to the
membership data and used to make a model. Out of that analysis we
found five different personality types.
Q1535 Simon Hart: How much data are we talking about? How many people? I
don't know what the membership of UKIP was at the time.
Brittany Kaiser: I would like to follow up with documentation on that. I
never took receipt of the data, so I don't know what the final count was,
but I probably have an email somewhere that states the number. I can
revert with that.
The analysis was drawn up into briefing material. Those briefs were used
in order to talk to the executives of the Leave.EU campaign and other
consultants about the insights that we had from the UK Independence
party data, and that was used to give insights for their social media
messaging, their campaign messaging, events, canvassing and so forth.
While we were undertaking this work we were also being consulted by
Philip Coppel, QC on how this data could be used and modelled.
Q1536 Simon Hart: Who was he working for? Who was paying him?
Brittany Kaiser: He was contracted by Cambridge Analytica through
Matthew Richardson, a barrister who I believe was secretary of the UK
Independence party at the time. I believe I have turned those documents
in to the Committee as well, where we were given advice on what we
could and could not do.
That was preliminary while we were planning on working with national
data sets and undertaking a much larger survey than the one that we
were provided with by the party itself. This piece of work was, in the
proposal and in the contract and invoice that we submitted to them, a
chargeable piece of work—not very significant in terms of our other pricing
structures, but £41,500, which is something that should have been paid. I
understand that in the press two days ago it came to light that Arron
Banks made a donation to the UK Independence party a week before the
referendum vote that was meant to cover that piece of work, but the UK
Independence party decided not pass on those funds to Cambridge
Analytica and pay the invoice that we had submitted.
Q1537 Simon Hart: On the question of money, what was the total value—this
may be somewhere in the written evidence; forgive me if it is—of the
contract between Cambridge Analytica and Leave.EU?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: We never had a contract with Leave.EU. The contract
was with the UK Independence party for the analysis of this data, but it
was meant to benefit Leave.EU.
Q1538 Simon Hart: Okay, so who paid who how much money, and when did
they pay it?
Brittany Kaiser: We submitted a contract for £41,500, and that was
never paid to us.
Q1539 Simon Hart: That was for the whole thing—for the company's entire
involvement in this process?
Brittany Kaiser: That was meant to be phase 1. I had two choices of next
phases for engagements, which were to be either almost £500,000—it was
£496,500—or, if we were to license them further data, undertake further
database engineering and give them access to our software development
platform Connect, which was for data management and canvassing
purposes, it would have been £808,100.
Q1540 Simon Hart: It may be a slightly unfair question, but how much of that,
if you can remember, came in during the reporting period—the period
they would have been legally required to declare that?
Brittany Kaiser: None of what was proposed in this document was
actually undertaken. It was only phase 1 of my first preliminary proposal
that was undertaken, and that was a total of £41,500.
Q1541 Simon Hart: I suppose I am trying to put words in your mouth slightly.
As far as you were aware, all the necessary declarations were made by—I
thought it was going to be just Leave.EU, but you are suggesting that the
relationship could have been more directly with UKIP. As far as you are
concerned, the legal requirements in terms of reporting were fulfilled.
Brittany Kaiser: No, sir. I do not believe that our work was reported by
anyone—not by Leave.EU, not by UKIP, and not by Cambridge Analytica.
Q1542 Ian C. Lucas: You mentioned that Steve Bannon facilitated the
introduction. Was that to Leave.EU or to UKIP?
Brittany Kaiser: I don't recall. I was not copied into those
communications, but I was pretty sure that he was involved in the setting
up of the first meetings. That could also have been true of our meeting
with Vote Leave that was then cancelled. I am not sure of the exact
Q1543 Ian C. Lucas: So when you were pitching, did you think that you were
pitching to UKIP or Leave.EU?
Brittany Kaiser: I knew that I was pitching to Leave.EU, although
Matthew Richardson, the party secretary, was part of those meetings
almost every time. I knew that UKIP was a public supporter of the
Leave.EU campaign, and that much of the work that we were being asked
to design in our proposals was going to be either parallel or joint
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Q1544 Ian C. Lucas: I am concerned about the transfer of data between UKIP
and Leave.EU. Did you say that Mr Richardson was the secretary of UKIP?
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that he was. I don't know if he still is.
Q1545 Ian C. Lucas: He appears to have been concerned about it as well,
because he commissioned a legal opinion on the issue on 17 November
2015. Did he commission it?
Brittany Kaiser: He commissioned it alongside ourselves, as Cambridge
Analytica, because we wanted to understand the implications of the usage
of the data that UKIP was transferring to us—what we could do with it, not
only for that first project but for the remainder of the Brexit campaign
Q1546 Ian C. Lucas: That's very odd, if Mr Richardson commissioned the
opinion, because his name is at the end of it, giving the opinion. So he
has commissioned an opinion from himself, and then given the opinion
that he perhaps wanted to hear, which was presented to Cambridge
Analytica. Is that right?
Brittany Kaiser: I believe it was technically paid for and commissioned by
Cambridge Analytica to Philip Coppel, QC. Matthew Richardson was a part
Q1547 Ian C. Lucas: Just for clarification, Matthew Richardson and Philip
Coppel, QC have signed this opinion.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1548 Ian C. Lucas: Now, I am a lawyer, but I am not an expensive lawyer—
I'm not a QC. My understanding is that, for example, the Labour party
wouldn't be permitted to transfer data to Britain Stronger in Europe,
because they are different organisations. Is that your understanding, too?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. I would say that it's probably not normal
professional practice to be one of the people giving a legal opinion to your
Q1549 Ian C. Lucas: Let's just talk about transferring data. Do you think it is
lawful—you work in this field—to transfer data from a political party to a
separate campaign in connection with leaving the EU?
Brittany Kaiser: Not without the specific opt-in of the individuals whose
data is concerned.
Q1550 Ian C. Lucas: Do you know what this opinion was used for?
Brittany Kaiser: This opinion was used for the phase 1 small piece of
work that we undertook.
Q1551 Ian C. Lucas: So it wasn't presented, for example, to Arron Banks.
Brittany Kaiser: I'm not sure. I do know that Matthew Richardson sent it
to me and Julian Wheatland for us to understand, or at least to give it to
our data scientists and our legal team to understand what could be
undertaken with that data. There are quite a few more implications to that
house of Commons
opinion. During our analysis of the UKIP data set, we were asked by Arron
Banks to consider combining the three work streams that we were talking
to him and his colleagues about. Those work streams were for Leave.EU,
the UK Independence party and Eldon or GoSkippy insurance. We made a
Q1552 Ian C. Lucas: That's a private company.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, it is.
Q1553 Ian C. Lucas: Which is owned by Mr Banks, just for clarity.
Brittany Kaiser: I believe so, yes.
Q1554 Ian C. Lucas: So it appears that he was transferring data between a
private company, a political party and a campaign to leave the EU.
Brittany Kaiser: I have two points on that. One is that he asked us to
design a strategy, where we could work with Leave.UK, UKIP and Eldon
insurance data together. You will see that the fourth proposal that I turned
in to Arron Banks shows a diagram: complementary work streams for
UKIP, Leave.EU and Eldon insurance. We were asked whether savings
could be achieved by running these three programmes together, instead of
separately. I believe that that legal opinion is one of many that would
have had to be undertaken if we were going to be contracted to do this
piece of work. We were never contracted to do this piece of work,
although from other evidence that has been given by individuals such as
Dr Emma Briant, and by Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore themselves to
the press and others, upon knowledge of recording, I believe that this
work was carried out, just not by Cambridge Analytica.
It is of note that within the legal opinion that I provided to you, in
paragraph 64, Mr Philip Coppel specifically says that the data under no
circumstances should be transferred abroad. That is specifically because
Cambridge Analytica is a foreign company. That would need to be written
out in the contract and all this data would have to be analysed within the
In regard to this proposal and work that I believe was undertaken with or
without us, there are a few specific concerns of legality. I believe those
concerns are also concerns of the Committee. The first is in relation to
breaches of electoral law for chargeable work, some of which I did, which
was never paid for and was unreported to the Electoral Commission.
Secondly, I have evidence from my own eyes of possible breaches of the
Data Protection Act concerning the commercial and personal data of
individuals in the Eldon Insurance database, and possibly the UKIP
database, being used for the benefit of the Leave.EU campaign. I am just
going to expand on that slightly. I visited the Eldon Insurance and
Leave.EU headquarters, which was the same building, with the same staff.
When a senior data scientist and myself spent time with their phone bank,
I was told by the people using the phone bank that the individuals they
were calling were out of the insurance database.
house of Commons
Thirdly, there is the question of whether the personal data of British
citizens was sent abroad, specifically to Mississippi for processing by Arron
Banks' firm, Big Data Dolphins, contrary to the Data Protection Act and to
the advice of Mr Philip Coppel, QC.
Q1555 Ian C. Lucas: We also know that Cambridge Analytica shared data with
AIQ. There was a contract, but AIQ is a Canadian company, so
presumably that was in contradiction to this provision as well.
Brittany Kaiser: I can infer that from the evidence that has been
submitted by others, but because I do not have any knowledge of that
myself, I couldn't expand that far.
Q1556 Ian C. Lucas: Do you know whether any other private businesses shared
data with Cambridge Analytica through UKIP?
Brittany Kaiser: No, although we were exploring matching data from
Experian, which is a big data vendor that we work with in the United
States. We were exploring licensing that in the United Kingdom for
matching to the UKIP database and to any database of individuals that
would have been collected by Leave.EU.
Q1557 Ian C. Lucas: Do you know whether Wetherspoons ever shared any
information with UKIP?
Brittany Kaiser: No, I don't know. If there is evidence of that, it would be
Q1558 Ian C. Lucas: Yes, it would be very interesting. You talked about the SCL
Group, including Cambridge Analytica, very much as one organisation.
The picture that I have is of data being shared freely between all of the
companies within that group. Is that accurate?
Brittany Kaiser: I am not sure which entity actually owned the database,
but most of the staff within Cambridge Analytica and the SCL Group had
two business cards and two emails. We worked for SCL Group and
Cambridge Analytica in parallel.
Q1559 Ian C. Lucas: When I spoke to Mr Nix, he said that SCL could transfer
data to Cambridge Analytica but, for security reasons, Cambridge
Analytica could not transfer data to SCL, because SCL had security
clearance. Does that ring any bells?
Brittany Kaiser: Ah, yes. It is a very complicated structure.
Ian C. Lucas: Some might say deliberately so.
Brittany Kaiser: Possibly. Originally, the SCL Group was the parent
company for all these other divisions, including Cambridge Analytica. Now,
once Cambridge Analytica became a very popular global brand, Cambridge
Analytica then subsumed most of those companies and divisions and the
SCL Group became just our defence company, SCL Group or SCL.gov,
based in Arlington.
Q1560 Ian C. Lucas: But Cambridge Analytica had access to the SCL database?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: I believe once the company was rebranded that there
should have been, at least, no access between those two companies
except for the contractual obligations that you are discussing, although I
do not believe up until that point that there was a difference between the
SCL Group and the Cambridge Analytica database. That would be slightly
concerning when we are talking about the difference between commercial
and political and defence work.
I have had those concerns in the past because when I joined the
company—I didn't remember this, but upon reflection—I found documents
from Nigel Oakes, the co-founder of the SCL Group, who was in charge of
our defence division, stating that the target audience analysis
methodology, TAA, used to be export controlled by the British
Government. That would mean that the methodology was considered a
weapon—weapons grade communications tactics—which means that we
had to tell the British Government if that was going to be deployed in
another country outside the United Kingdom. I understand that
designation was removed in 2015.
Q1561 Ian C. Lucas: Can I ask a question about the invoice issued by
Cambridge Analytica to UKIP? Do you know why that was issued to UKIP
as opposed to Leave.EU?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, Leave.EU did not have any data yet at the
beginning, because it was just a campaign, so we went to UKIP—they
were participating in our meetings jointly with Leave.EU executives—in
order to find some data to begin working on. That was the UKIP
membership data and the survey data provided to us for the phase 1 piece
Q1562 Ian C. Lucas: But the intention was—the work that you were doing was
relating to a pitch to work for Leave.EU?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, sir.
Q1563 Chair: Just to clarify, what you said about the target audience analysis
work—that was part of the proposal put together for Leave.EU. That is
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1564 Chair: So what you are saying is that the proposal was for Leave.EU to
use what you call "weapons grade communications techniques" against
the UK population?
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that in 2015 target audience analysis no longer
had an export designation. I don't know at what point that was dropped
off, but I believe that it still existed in 2014 when I joined the company.
Q1565 Chair: What do you mean by "export designation"?
Brittany Kaiser: I don't actually know the complexities of this, but I
believe that every year or every few years something that is export
controlled has to be renewed, and that was not renewed. I don't know
what you need to qualify for that or what the implications of that are.
house of Commons
Q1566 Chair: Basically, these were techniques where previously you would have
needed to inform the authorities that you intend to use these in the UK—
would that be correct?
Brittany Kaiser: That is what I was told by Nigel Oakes, yes.
Q1567 Chair: And when that designation was removed, it could be done without
informing the authorities, but nevertheless, it is still the same product. A
product that was considered so dangerous that its use was restricted:
nevertheless the intention was that that strategy would be used in the
Brittany Kaiser: The interesting thing is that the target audience analysis
uses a lot less data than psychographic micro-targeting, which is what we
use in the United States.
Q1568 Jo Stevens: Can I ask a few questions about the Eldon Insurance and
the Leave.EU stuff? But first, this invoice for the work that you did on
phase 1 which you have described, can you remember the dates between
which you did the work—when it started roughly and when it finished
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, I believe we took receipt of the data in late
October, although I wasn't present in the office; I was in DC when a
member of the UK Independence Party showed up to SCL Group's HQ in
Mayfair with a big computer stack.
That was their form of transferring data—they actually brought an old
desktop into the office physically. We took the membership data and the
survey data off that computer and began analysing it. Usually that type of
matching, modelling and analysis takes us two to three weeks. I don't
know how many days our data scientists actually spent on that, but we
estimated that the work was worth £41,500 based on the time spent—
Q1569 Jo Stevens: Sorry to interrupt you. Is that on market rates or mates'
Brittany Kaiser: No, that was generally what we were charging at the
time. That was in preparation for the public press conference that we did
on 18 November. There would have been a couple of weeks of work
leading up to that. I spent 18 November, the day before and the day after
in Millbank Tower, the Leave.EU London offices, briefing everybody who
was working at those offices on my findings, and working with the
communications and social media teams on how you could use that insight
to craft different communications campaigns.
Q1570 Jo Stevens: When did the work that you were doing on that phase stop?
Brittany Kaiser: It would have been within a couple of days after that.
The rest of it was putting together this joint proposal, which took quite a
few weeks to do, to understand the complexities of how the data could
possibly be combined, although we would probably have had to have a few
more legal opinions drawn up to understand that we could do this, or have
house of Commons
undertaken opt-in campaigns with the individuals whose data were
contained on those databases.
The last time I actually engaged with any individuals in Leave.EU myself
was at the end of November, although in January this proposal was
presented by Julian Wheatland and Alexander Nix to, I believe, Arron
Banks, Liz Bilney, Andy Wigmore and Matthew Richardson.
Q1571 Jo Stevens: Thank you. I think you said earlier regarding this proposal
that although you did not undertake this work for Arron Banks, it has
subsequently been done. Do you know who has done that work?
Brittany Kaiser: Both Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore have told multiple
individuals that they took my proposal and copied it, and that they created
their own Cambridge Analytica which they called Big Data Dolphins, in
partnership with the data science department at Ole Miss University—the
University of Mississippi.
Q1572 Jo Stevens: So presumably—stop me if I am wrong—implementing this
proposal involves, based on what you have said, taking data from UK
customers of Eldon Insurance, GoSkippy Insurance, UKIP members and
Vote Leave data.
Brittany Kaiser: Leave.EU data.
Q1573 Jo Stevens: Sorry—Leave.EU data. And that goes over into the United
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1574 Jo Stevens: Do you know whether or not Cambridge Analytica have a
continuing relationship, other than what you have already described—I
am particularly interested in Julian Wheatland's involvement in this—with
Brittany Kaiser: I don't believe so. He never paid us for any of our work,
never accepted any of our subsequent proposals, and has bragged about
copying our company and recreating it for himself, so I do not believe that
there would be a relationship left to have.
Q1575 Jo Stevens: Okay, thank you. I know in your written evidence you
mention the fact that there was a discussion, or something was talked
about with Arron Banks, about the use of the Eldon and GoSkippy data.
To quote from your written evidence: "Arron Banks said, Tt's my data'",
so he is using customer data from GoSkippy and Eldon Insurance for
Brittany Kaiser: That is what I saw with my own eyes when I spent a day
at the Bristol headquarters. I was brought there under the understanding
that I was going to Leave.EU's headquarters. It became very quickly
obvious that this was actually an Eldon Insurance headquarters, which is
also the parent company of GoSkippy—maybe that is one of their brands.
All the staff there were employed by an insurance company and almost
none knew anything about political campaigning. A lot of what I said to
house of Commons
them and what I presented to them was novel. They had never heard of
any of these tactics. They had never participated in politics before and
openly said, "I work for an insurance company, so—help!"
Q1576 Jo Stevens: So why were you going to see the people in the call centre?
Were they going to be working on the Leave.EU campaign?
Brittany Kaiser: They were actively working on the Leave.EU campaign
when I was there.
Q1577 Jo Stevens: And how many people were working in the call centre?
Brittany Kaiser: The call centre was about the size of this room—maybe
a little bit smaller—with at least, probably, 20 active callers. They all had a
computer and a headset, making calls that I assume were normally sales
calls or calls for customer assistance or advice, and instead they were
calling people to undertake a survey.
They were talking to those people about their interest in leaving the
European Union, and issues around Brexit, and Leave or Remain. We were
sitting with those individuals specifically because we said it was unlikely
that the survey that they were undertaking was up to scratch with what
we would need for modelling. So, we sat there to understand what data
they were using, what surveys they were undertaking and how we could
improve on that, so that that data could be used for nationwide modelling.
I was under the impression, by what they told me, that every single
individual that they were pulling up to call was actually a lead or a current
customer of Eldon Insurance or GoSkippy.
Q1578 Jo Stevens: And do you know for how long they'd been making those
calls? I think you visited in November, didn't you?
Brittany Kaiser: I believe I visited in November, yes; I would have to
double-check that. But it would have been end of October/early
November. And they had probably already been doing that for a month or
two, because we started having these conversations with them in
Q1579 Jo Stevens: Right. And this was a full-time call centre?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1580 Jo Stevens: With 20 people in it?
Brittany Kaiser: At least.
Q1581 Chair: I just want to clarify the dates. So, the date of the legal opinion,
which you presented as written evidence, the date that was signed off
was the day before the press launch for Leave.EU. Are those two things
connected? Was this commissioned just to check that the methodology or
the way of working that would be at the press launch was in fact legal?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, before I presented it to members of Leave.EU.
Q1582 Chair: So there was a concern, clearly, within the organisation that that
house of Commons
opinion needed to be sought before the official launch, because there was
Brittany Kaiser: The idea was that directly after the press launch we
would begin phase 2 of the proposal and we needed to understand what
the legalities around beginning that second phase of work would be.
Q1583 Chair: But as Mr Lucas mentioned earlier on, the existence of that
opinion would seem to suggest that there clearly was a working
relationship, which was being tested here.
Brittany Kaiser: Of course. We knew, though, that with the data that was
given to us by UKIP for phase 1, we were allowed to model internal data
for UKIP, but I wouldn't have been able to present that to Leave.EU
without that legal opinion nor suggest that I could undertake phase 2 of
the proposal, or begin contractual negotiations over that.
Q1584 Chair: There were other organisations, obviously, involved in
campaigning on the referendum question, aside from those that got the
official designation. That includes organisations like Grassroots Out. Were
they involved? Was data from Grassroots Out accessible to the work you
were doing, with the intention to use that, too?
Brittany Kaiser: I was no longer in conversation with any of these
individuals when they became Grassroots Out. That was way later, after
Arron Banks made it very clear that none of our contracts were going to
be signed or our bills paid.
Q1585 Chair: From the email evidence you've supplied to us, and you refer to it
in your statement as well, you clearly believe that Arron Banks had
approved the budget that was presented?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, or at least Liz Bilney, who was the CEO of Leave.EU
at the time and his right hand—she travelled with him everywhere and
was in charge of multiple of his businesses, or business engagements, all
over the world. So, she had given us the green light, in writing and
verbally, and therefore I asked Julian—at the time, our CFO—if we could
have the go-ahead to begin work. He was in charge of our finances and if
he said, you know, on a gentlemen's agreement, "Go ahead, while we wait
for the legal opinion and the contract", then that was my permission to go
Q1586 Chair: The preparatory work that was done was analysing the data
available at Eldon and through GoSkippy to see what information they
had and how that could be used. I imagine that that data in and of
itself—it needs to be processed in some way to make it useful to a
Brittany Kaiser: It would have to have been, yes. I was just looking at
what was available. I had seen that a data scientist who was there with
me was looking to see what was there, so that we understood how we
could process it.
Q1587 Chair: Just for the record and the Committee, it might be helpful if you
house of Commons
could walk us through what the recommendation was. How do you
process that data to make it useful to a political campaign? What do you
need to add to it to make it work?
Brittany Kaiser: So, by nature of data science, the more that you know
about an individual, the more accurate an algorithm you can build to
predict their behaviour, their opinions, their personality, or their emotions
on a certain issue. We would have taken the data that we had on their
commercial and political activities, and the most data that we could pin
back to their personally identifiable information.
In the US we would use first name, last name, zip code or post code, and
a birthdate to ensure that we were talking about the right person. Then
you continue to append that data to get as deep a data profile on an
individual as possible. On top of that, once you have data profiles on as
many people across the country as possible, you would design a
quantitative survey. I believe we said that we were going to do two
surveys of 40,000 individuals, and that is used as a training set. So when
we know what 40,000 people would answer on specific questions about
political ideology and issues, then we can build a model that gives us
predictions about what everybody else would say.
Q1588 Chair: And then, presumably, would you then use tools like Facebook to
help identify people from the training set, and then invite other people
like them, who Facebook can help you identify?
Brittany Kaiser: Exactly correct.
Q1589 Jo Stevens: The Eldon and GoSkippy insurance data—did they give you
all the customers' data? Do you know how many people's data you
Brittany Kaiser: I never received any data from the insurance company.
We were only privy to what data points existed in its database. It probably
told us how many individuals were in its database, and I can look through
my emails if you are interested.
Jo Stevens: It would be really helpful to know that.
Brittany Kaiser: Of course.
Q1590 Chair: How was it planned that Facebook data would be used? Would
that be gathered during the course of the campaign and added to the
training set, or was there Facebook data that was accessible already?
Brittany Kaiser: When I sat with their social media team we looked at
undertaking surveys on Facebook—it was similar to what Cambridge
Analytica or the SCL Group had done in the past. I believe that they began
to do those surveys on Facebook without us, from what I understand from
what they have said to the media, but usually Facebook would just be
used in terms of their targeting tools.
You upload a certain database and that matches individuals within
Facebook, and then you can target a lookalike audience to those people,
and find even more individuals who are as similar as possible to the
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individuals that you already know are likely to be interested in leaving the
Q1591 Chair: I believe Leave.EU said that a lot of the work it did after it didn't
get the designation was through Facebook pages, and getting people to
sign up and register interest on the Leave.EU website. Presumably, it was
getting contact emails and addresses from Facebook users that they
could then match against their data set to identify people in the data set
against their Facebook profile and use that as the basis of targeting them
and other Facebook users who had similar favourable opinions.
Brittany Kaiser: That should have been the way that they were doing it,
but it was an undertaking by Cambridge Analytica so I can't say for sure
what the exact methodology was.
Q1592 Chair: For our benefit, to be effective in this space, how big a working
set do you need to use that to create the basis for targeting the whole
country in terms of voting?
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that the algorithms that we built for Cambridge
Analytica used at least 400 variables, and it would be very difficult to have
thousands of data points on individuals in the United Kingdom. Therefore
the models would be scientifically less accurate than what you can produce
in the United States, for instance. I am not a data scientist, so I would not
be able to say the minimum number of data points that you would require,
but I do know that, for instance, there are other data science
consultancies that will build an algorithm with 50 variables.
Q1593 Chair: But how many individuals do you need to have profiled as part of
your working set in order to use that as a model to help you to target
effectively others who are like them, and through them reach most of the
electorate in an election? How big a sample set of individuals do you need
to work from in order to achieve a successful campaign?
Brittany Kaiser: You would want millions in a country the size of the
United Kingdom, at minimum, and to be talking to tens of thousands of
people to complete surveys. But it depends what level of accuracy you
would be interested in having. Some people are fine with less than 95%
confidence rate, for example. It depends how exact you need to be.
Q1594 Chair: But you still need a big group.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, but that can be achieved by licensing data sets
from a company like Experian, where that is based on the entire country's
credit profile. In the United States, that gives us basically everybody
above the age of 18—240 million Americans—just from going to one
Q1595 Chair: I would like to follow on from that and your experience of the Ted
Cruz campaign. There was a lot of talk in the referendum about the value
of door-to-door canvassing techniques and the ability to feed that data
back into the system, but is the purpose of that not just to support voter
turnout on election day, with people going around knocking on doors—
historically what canvassing has been there for—but to enrich the overall
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data set that is being used during the campaign to target people with
Brittany Kaiser: I would say that these days it is much more important
for data collection than turnout specifically. Turnout messages can be
targeted to those individuals without a person going to speak to them in
Q1596 Ian C. Lucas: We know that there was contact between Facebook and
Cambridge Analytica about the use of data. I think it was in 2015, from
memory. Did you know about that at the time?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. The first time that I heard anything about Facebook
data, in writing or even in a personal conversation, which didn't have to do
with those personality quizzes, was late April 2015. Facebook had
announced to all of its clients, and therefore to its clients' clients, that it
was going to close its personal data API, which allowed apps and their
clients to have access to this data. Before the closing of this access, my
chief data officer gave me and two of my colleagues a list of thousands of
different groups on Facebook and asked us to choose 500 of them that we
thought having information of the individuals who like those groups would
be useful in our modelling for our new commercial business, which I was
helping grow. So we chose 500 of those groups and turned that into what
I suppose is now GSR, although I wasn't aware of who we were getting
them from at the time, in order to get the data of those individuals who
liked the groups that we chose. We received that data and turned in that
request on 5 May, 2015. If Facebook actually closed that API in April,
either a company contracted with Facebook was contravening their legal
obligations or they were selling us old data—I am not sure.
Seven months later, in December 2015, an individual from Facebook
contacted Cambridge Analytica to ask if we still had any Facebook data
sets that we had received from Professor Kogan or GSR. We replied that
yes, we had, but we had an agreement with GSR to have that data. Now,
Facebook's agreement with GSR apparently said something different, that
it wasn't meant to have the data and therefore any of its clients were no
longer meant to have the data, so we agreed to delete it, but our chief
data officer specifically said, "We haven't contravened any contractual
obligations, but at your request we are happy to delete it." That deletion
was apparently made in January 2016, which is quite a long time after no
one was supposed to have access to those data sets any more. I find it
incredibly irresponsible that a company with as much money as
Facebook—until a couple of weeks ago it was worth $500 billion—had no
due diligence mechanisms in place for protecting the data of British
citizens, American citizens or their users in general.
Something else of note is that in March 2016 I was copied into a back and
Q1597 Ian C. Lucas: Before you go on, how do you know that in January 2016
the data was deleted?
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Brittany Kaiser: I don't know that it was deleted. I know that our chief
data officer said it was deleted—to Facebook.
Ian C. Lucas: Okay, thank you.
Brittany Kaiser: That was forwarded to me willingly in order to help deal
with the questions from our clients around PR issues, because The
Guardian had reported on this issue.
In March 2016, six or eight weeks after our chief data officer said that
those data sets were deleted, I had an email from one of our senior data
scientists responding to a question that said that we were actually using
Facebook-like data in our modelling. So that seems quite strange to me: if
we had deleted all of the Facebook data sets, how we were still using that
for modelling in March.
Q1598 Ian C. Lucas: So your suspicion is that someone might have been
continuing to use the Facebook data in March 2016.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. That is only upon reflection.
Q1599 Ian C. Lucas: Okay. I understand that. Furthermore, on Facebook taking
steps to ensure that the assurance they were given by Cambridge
Analytica that the information had been deleted, you are not aware of
them actually checking that?
Brittany Kaiser: They did not come and check that at all. That was the
final communication, I believe, on the topic.
Q1600 Chair: I know Paul Farrelly wants to come in, but I want to finish off on
Facebook, if that's okay. Facebook said that it believed that Aleksandr
Kogan had access to data profiles on up to 1 million people in the UK. Did
you ever get any sense of how many UK profiles were part of the data set
that Aleksandr Kogan had collected?
Brittany Kaiser: No. I didn't even know who Professor Kogan was when I
joined the company. Once he was mentioned in an email, where he was
referred to as Alex Kogan, a psychologist that we work with. I actually did
not know much about him or GSR at all, so a lot of this is new information
to me, unfortunately.
Q1601 Chair: But with Cambridge Analytica, did you get any sense of how much
Facebook profile data it had related to UK users of the platform?
Brittany Kaiser: I was told that we never had any data on UK citizens,
because I was constantly pitching for commercial contracts here and I did
not really have much to back up my proposals that said that we could
undertake similar kinds of work as we did in the United States.
Q1602 Chair: You said that you were asked to look through lists of Facebook
groups and choose 500. Why groups as opposed to pages or profiles?
Brittany Kaiser: I don't know. I suppose there was just a good source of
data. If people liked this particular group, it was a topic that they were
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interested in. That ranged from restaurants to pop stars to anything you
can imagine. It was personal interest.
Q1603 Chair: Are groups more open? Is it easier to see who has joined various
groups if it is an open group rather than on a page?
Brittany Kaiser: That's possible, yes.
Chair: It's interesting. It's an issue we've raised with Facebook before.
Next week I am sure we will do the significance of Facebook groups as a
means of analysing user behaviour and disseminating information. In their
official responses to us, they always downplay the significance of groups
and focus more on pages and on profiles. I just find it interesting that that
was particularly highlighted in your case.
Q1604 Ian C. Lucas: Can I follow up on the groups question? Does the data
relating to the groups only relate to people who like the group or is it
people who have visited the group as well?
Brittany Kaiser: As far as I know, we were only receiving data from
individuals who had liked the group.
Q1605 Paul Farrelly: On this strand, you said earlier that it is not as easy to
get as many data points—I assume that means bits of information—on
UK citizens as in the US. Why do you say that?
Brittany Kaiser: Because the US is, by default, an opt-in country, and
European nations are, by default, opt-out. Someone has to opt in for you
to hold their data or to use it for particular purposes in this country, which
means that there are a lot of data sets that are never collected and never
held that are collected by default in the United States and cannot be sold
on, licensed and modelled.
Q1606 Paul Farrelly: But you also say in your evidence: "it's important also to
emphasise that during most of my time at Cambridge Analytica, the
culture and assumptions of the firm and the wider data brokerage and ad
tech industries within which it operated were a bit 'Wild West', with
citizens' data being scraped, resold and modelled willy-nilly." How does
that fit with your statement about UK citizens?
Brittany Kaiser: That's what Alexander used to say about the United
States, which is why, even though the headquarters was in London, he
said that now is the time to enter into business in the United States as
quickly as possible, while the data laws were still "Wild West".
Q1607 Paul Farrelly: Okay, so while that may have been Cambridge Analytica's
attitude, it may not have been the same attitude held by other companies
here that hold data on individuals, such as Experian, in sharing it with
Brittany Kaiser: It's just that the data laws in the United Kingdom do not
allow for a lot of the data work that can be easily undertaken in the US.
Q1608 Paul Farrelly: So other companies might have been more ethical than
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Brittany Kaiser: I would hope so.
Q1609 Paul Farrelly: A second question: presumably, when you were pitching
to Leave.EU, it would have occurred to you to propose incorporating the
data UKIP had collected on people from their canvassing and other
activities. That was part of the proposal, was it?
Brittany Kaiser: It was only a part of the proposal after I had given a
separate proposal for UKIP, Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance. I was then
asked by Arron Banks if there could possibly be either a costs saving or a
benefit to running a joint programme.
Q1610 Paul Farrelly: Did it occur to you, or were there any other discussions,
about possibly getting data from other political sources—for instance,
from the constituencies of Brexit-friendly MPs, be they Conservative,
Labour or otherwise?
Brittany Kaiser: That would have been helpful, although most of those
MPs would have had to run an opt-in programme for the individuals who
supported them who they held data on. If you ask people to opt in for that
particular kind of campaign, you are unlikely to get a great response.
Q1611 Paul Farrelly: Did it occur, or did you discuss—possibly at HQ level—that
there are officials of different parties who take different views on Brexit,
and that you could perhaps gain access to data held by any party's
political hQ, be it Labour, UKIP or Conservative?
Brittany Kaiser: The only reason it was so easy to engage with the UK
Independence party was that it was the only party that fully supported
only one campaign. Every other party was divided on party lines.
Paul Farrelly: Or neutral.
Brittany Kaiser: Or neutral.
Q1612 Paul Farrelly: You are not aware of any approaches, successful or
otherwise, to friendly MPs or party headquarters?
Brittany Kaiser: I am not aware of that, although we—I say "we", but I
mean Leave.EU—contracted the famous demographer Ian Warren in order
to explore the types of data available about Labour voters and how that
could be used in their communications campaigns.
Q1613 Paul Farrelly: I'm talking about the canvassing data that we have.
Brittany Kaiser: I don't believe—
Paul Farrelly: We have Experian data, but it tends to tell us what we
already know about where people live, quite frankly, in terms of their
Brittany Kaiser: As far as I know, those communications never took
Chair: Thank you very much. We are going to move on to asking
questions about some of the other work you have done aside from the
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referendum campaign. Paul is going to start us off with that, and then we
will come on to Chris.
Q1614 Paul Farrelly: I want to talk about your evidence about Nigeria. In that
evidence, you quite rightly say that opposition research is part and parcel
of politics, and that you were introduced to a suitable opposition research
company, which was not called Black Cube. What was it called?
Brittany Kaiser: I don't remember, to be honest. I never had a contract
with that company. I introduced them to the client and they contracted
Q1615 Paul Farrelly: But they were suitable?
Brittany Kaiser: As far as they presented to me, but I did not know any
other opposition research companies that had experience in Nigeria.
Q1616 Paul Farrelly: You can't remember the name?
Brittany Kaiser: No, but I can try to find it for you.
Q1617 Paul Farrelly: Please. Obviously, legitimate opposition research does not
include hacking into people's personal details, medical records or
anything else that might be embarrassing, including criminal records or
whatever might be available. There was a report in The Guardian
regarding this now infamous company, Black Cube. I will quote it. It was
in The Guardian on 21 March this year: "Staff working on the
campaign"—this is Nigeria—"say in early 2015 they met Israeli
cybersecurity contractors in Cambridge Analytica's offices in Mayfair,
London. Employees say they were told the meeting was arranged by
Brittany Kaiser, a senior director at the firm." Is that true?
Brittany Kaiser: I was in touch with my team that had been in Nigeria
and had been working with these people on the ground. I was not aware
of what work they had done, but I did know that they were coming to
headquarters to present some information that they had obtained from the
opposing campaign. They came to the office for maybe an hour one day,
and plugged something into a computer to show some pieces of
information that they had obtained from the opposing campaign.
I was not working in operations on this campaign. We had a full team that
was sat in the Abuja Hilton, in fact, that was running this on the ground. It
was only a three-week campaign. This was not a campaign of much
significance, to be honest, but they had obtained some documents that
said that the other candidate had visited hospitals, that the other
candidate was being consulted to by my former boss David Axelrod—he
managed the Obama campaign when I worked there—even though David
had said in the press that he was no longer working for them, and then a
lot of other miscellaneous information.
The clients did not find any of this useful at all. It resulted in one or two
articles that were put out by the local campaign team in the international
press that said that David Axelrod was still consulting to that campaign.
Nothing else came of it, and I understand that the clients did not continue
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to hire those consultants, because they did not think that the information
Q1618 Paul Farrelly: There is further information about activities in other
countries that colleagues want to talk about, but the Israeli cybersecurity
contractors that were referred to in this Guardian article came from the
company Black Cube, did they?
Brittany Kaiser: Not to my knowledge. I had never heard the name Black
Cube until I saw it in the press.
Q1619 Paul Farrelly: Do you know what company they came from?
Brittany Kaiser: It would have been the same company that we were
talking about. I believe that they were campaign consultants that had
worked in African elections before.
Q1620 Paul Farrelly: Okay, but had they been from Black Cube without your
knowledge of the name of the company that was employing them, it
would have been true to have said that you arranged this meeting in
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, I was present at that meeting, and I knew that they
Q1621 Paul Farrelly: That was my next question—whether you were at the
meeting. What was your reaction to the activities that they described?
Brittany Kaiser: They showed me a video of sitting in campaign meetings
with the opposition, so I was kind of surprised that they had managed to
achieve that, because they were actually sitting there with the candidate
campaign manager and other high-level individuals on the campaign. I
had never seen that before from campaign consultants. I was kind of
shocked that they were able to—I don't want to say "achieve something
like that" as if it was great, but it was definitely shocking: their skill level
at going undercover and achieving that kind of trust from the other side.
They obtained data while they were in that campaign—I cannot confirm
how that was obtained, to be honest—and then they presented that to me.
I did not think any of it was useful. Obviously, the name David Axelrod
pops out at me because I know the man personally and used to work
under his direction. That piece of data was turned into a press article.
Q1622 Paul Farrelly: Did it occur to you that that modus operandi—going
undercover like that—was, if not useful, unethical?
Brittany Kaiser: It was something that I was quite used to in US politics.
A lot of times, opposition researchers are sent to become part of local
campaign teams or to take part in local rallies and film people off camera.
Q1623 Paul Farrelly: To infiltrate.
Brittany Kaiser: Indeed. Yes.
Q1624 Paul Farrelly: So you were quite comfortable with that?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: It is commonplace in politics, fortunately or
Q1625 Paul Farrelly: Not here, I don't think, unless I am so naive that I have
been taken for a ride for the last 20 years.
Brittany Kaiser: I don't know, but I would say questioning the ethics of it
is correct, definitely, in hindsight. I am no longer interested in being
involved with activities of that sort.
Q1626 Paul Farrelly: The Guardian article I am referring to goes on to talk
about various things that were allegedly obtained by this team of cyber
contractors and the team on the ground actually then panicking and
pulling out. Were you aware of all that before this article?
Brittany Kaiser: I was never aware of any panicking. I was told that
when the election was meant to take place, which was 14 February 2015,
we had only had people there for three weeks. The election was then
pushed forward by a couple of weeks and the clients did not want to pay
for our contractors to stay there any longer, so they came back and did
not stay in the country all the way until election day.
Q1627 Paul Farrelly: We have had copies of a pretty horrendous video that was
produced as part of that work and campaign. What sort of work on that
campaign, including that video, were you aware of?
Brittany Kaiser: I was only aware of all of the campaign materials at the
end of the campaign, when I was given the portfolio that I have given as
evidence to the Committee. I do understand that there was one video that
used violent images. That was specifically because I was working with a
lot of individuals who did not believe that Buhari was a legitimate
candidate because he was a war criminal who had slaughtered people in
the '80s—specifically children—and burned their bodies in the streets to
initiate fear in the citizens. There were a lot of human rights lawyers who
were trying to stop him being a political candidate, and that was a
reminder to anyone under the age of 30, who would not have been privy
to that information—they would not have been born yet—of who that man
Q1628 Paul Farrelly: So that was part of the portfolio and you were fully aware
Brittany Kaiser: At the end, yes.
Q1629 Paul Farrelly: Of the campaign?
Brittany Kaiser: After it had already been pushed out and used, then I
was made aware of the full campaign portfolio, yes.
Q1630 Chair: On the particular film that Mr Farrelly refers to, the core message
was actually that he would establish sharia law in Nigeria and that people
would face punishment beatings and death as a consequence of extreme
sharia law being introduced into the country, more than his previous
record. That's correct, isn't it?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: You can look through all of the videos in the portfolio—
there were quite a few—but I did not produce them and I was not aware
of them being produced.
Q1631 Paul Farrelly: But you saw them afterwards?
Brittany Kaiser: I saw them afterwards, yes.
Q1632 Paul Farrelly: You saw them afterwards. But this was in, what, 2015?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1633 Paul Farrelly: Did they not make you feel uncomfortable?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1634 Paul Farrelly: But you stayed at Cambridge Analytica until 2018.
Brittany Kaiser: I did, but a decision that would have been made by a
contractor who did not even work for our company full time who was
running that campaign—a gentleman under the name of Sam Patten—had
nothing to do with the rest of the company. That was one video among
about 50 or 60 pieces of creative that were put in local newspapers, radio,
Facebook and Twitter. It was not concerning enough for me to quit my
full-time job, no.
Paul Farrelly: People might take a different view, but it depends on their
personalities, of course. I have a few more questions, but Ian wants to
Q1635 Ian C. Lucas: Sorry, just picking up on this point, when Mr Nix gave
evidence I asked him to produce one example of a piece of work that
Cambridge Analytica had rejected on ethical grounds. He said he would
come back to me, and he has since come back and said he cannot
produce one example of a piece of work that he rejected on ethical
grounds. Have you ever rejected anything on ethical grounds, in terms of
campaigns, at Cambridge Analytica?
Brittany Kaiser: I have never been under authority to say yes or no to
any piece of creative. I was not in campaign operations.
Q1636 Ian C. Lucas: We have heard about this particular example. Are there
any other examples that made you uncomfortable?
Brittany Kaiser: I have been offered introductions to clients that I
refused to meet with, such as the Alternative for Germany and Marine Le
Pen's campaign. I refused to even get on a phone call with them.
Q1637 Ian C. Lucas: But not UKIP?
Brittany Kaiser: Not UKIP, no.
Q1638 Chair: Can I ask who asked you to meet with AfD and with Marine Le
Brittany Kaiser: I believe it could have been the same individual who
introduced us to the UK Independence Party, but I am not sure because I
house of Commons
was not introduced to them directly. The introductions were suggested
that they could be made.
Q1639 Chair: You are talking about Steve Bannon, so was it suggested to you
that Steve Bannon could make an introduction to both Marine Le Pen and
Alternative for Germany?
Brittany Kaiser: It was— I do believe we were actually introduced via
email to one of the communications officers for Alternative for Germany. I
would have to check who made that introduction.
It was offered that Marine Le Pen's campaign could be introduced to us; I
don't think I was ever told who that introduction was going to be made by.
I think it was Julian Wheatland who asked if we wanted the introduction—
or asked one of my colleagues who spoke French if we wanted the
introduction—and we had a meeting about it and decided no.
Q1640 Chair: Okay, but why do believe that Steve Bannon was involved in that
Brittany Kaiser: Because I don't believe that Julian had connections to
any of these parties.
Q1641 Chair: The one person who does have connections to those parties, apart
from Steve Bannon, is Nigel Farage. Do you believe he—?
Brittany Kaiser: It's possible.
Q1642 Chair: But you weren't told that?
Brittany Kaiser: I wasn't told that, but I can look back in my emails and
see if an individual is referenced, yes.
Chair: That would be helpful. Thank you.
Q1643 Paul Farrelly: I've just got a few more questions. They are curiosity
questions, Chair, if you'll just allow me.
Miss Kaiser, you seem to have travelled a long way, from being an
idealistic intern in Barack Obama's campaign to working for a number of
years for an organisation that keeps pretty unsavoury company in
wishing to make pitches—let's leave Nigeria to one side—to far-right
political parties, whether or not you turn them down. Didn't that make
you at all uncomfortable?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, which is why I agreed to never work in operations
for those campaigns. Meeting with those people is very different from
actually crafting and pushing out those messages in terms of personal,
I originally joined the company because I had been frustrated for many
years while working on campaigns for human rights and for liberal parties
that I supported that were unsuccessful or unmeasurable. The Strategic
Communications Laboratory has always boasted of being able to measure
effectiveness of campaigns. I joined to help grow their social division—so,
being able to use science of communications in order to achieve better
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results for UN agencies, NGOs, CBOs or parties that I supported was very
interesting for me, yes.
Q1644 Paul Farrelly: Forgive me for my ignorance. You make reference to a
time in March when you first spoke to The Guardian. When was that? Was
that after their article about Nigeria?
Brittany Kaiser: I think it within 48 hours of that, yes.
Q1645 Paul Farrelly: So it was after that. Was it after Mr Nix had been
Brittany Kaiser: I don't think so, no.
Q1646 Paul Farrelly: Okay. We can do the timeline. Can I just ask you a very
personal question? How old are you?
Brittany Kaiser: I am 30 years old.
Q1647 Paul Farrelly: You're 30 years old. You are very lucky to be 30. I don't
know much about your background, but in your emails you've got, PhD
candidate, MPhil, LLM, MA (Hons). Could you tell us the background of all
Brittany Kaiser: Of course. I moved to Edinburgh in 2005 to undertake
an MA with honours in international relations—that was what would be
considered a three-year undergrad, one-year masters, but one MA. Then I
went to University of London, Birkbeck, to undertake an LLM in
international human rights law, which I completed. Then I went to
Middlesex University to do an MPhil and a PhD in international law and
human rights; the topic was preventive diplomacy to stop atrocity crimes.
I did the first year and a half, which was the MPhil, then passed into the
PhD and did the first two and a half years. I was still writing that PhD
while I was working for Alexander Nix. He asked me if I would put that on
hold in order to dedicate myself fully to work for the company.
Q1648 Paul Farrelly: And it was during those studies that you volunteered for
the Obama campaign.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1649 Paul Farrelly: Your CV also says that, in between times, you established
an inward investment company in Libya.
Brittany Kaiser: I did, yes. It was called the Pace Group. I had written
about Libya for years in my human rights works, and I wanted to go there
to do human rights research for my upcoming degree. Unfortunately, you
can't get a visa to do that. In some of the conferences that I attended, I
met somebody who was doing business with a media company based in
Tripoli and London, and they invited me to be part of a new company they
were starting, which I joined. That was the Pace Group.
Paul Farrelly: P-A-C-E?
Brittany Kaiser: P-A-C-E, yes. I joined that company, which was based
between Tripoli and London in order to put together international
house of Commons
conferences that would bring together politicians and businesspeople to
talk about renegotiating diplomatic relations post-Gaddafi era and
renegotiating Gaddafi-era investment contracts, with the hope of
stabilising the country after the revolution.
Q1650 Paul Farrelly: And what happened to that?
Brittany Kaiser: It was successful for about a year and a half, until I was
hired out of that company by a gentleman called Michael Thomas, who ran
Pathfinder Trade and Invest—a UKTI-partnered trade association. I
became director of operations of that company about a year and a half
into working for the Pace Group.
Q1651 Paul Farrelly: And last year you got involved in something called Bueno
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Paul Farrelly: Which is not a chocolate company.
Brittany Kaiser: No, it isn't. It's a blockchain advisory and development
firm out of Zurich.
Q1652 Paul Farrelly: And that was while you were working for Cambridge
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, it was. One of the reasons why Alexander and I
could not come to an agreement about what a consultancy role for me
would look like was that I don't believe he thought I could help grow a
new company as well as working for him.
Q1653 Paul Farrelly: And was he involved in that? Have you got any business
relationships or personal relationships with Alexander Nix?
Brittany Kaiser: Not at the moment, no.
Q1654 Paul Farrelly: But you might have in the future.
Brittany Kaiser: Right now, it would be rather uncomfortable to do so.
Q1655 Paul Farrelly: I just want to ask a final question. I used to be a
journalist, and this is a question that would occur to me to ask of any
source or anyone giving testimony like this. You have been very active in
your life on all different sides of lots of fences. Don't take this the wrong
way; it is a standard question. In your life, have you ever worked for,
paid or unpaid, or provided information to, any country's intelligence
agency, their representatives or associated organisations, or otherwise
acted in any way that would mean that you might be reasonably
described as an intelligence service asset or resource?
Brittany Kaiser: No, although I was travelling to a lot of countries that
were of interest to the US Government, so whenever I came back to DC, I
would brief the State Department on where I had been, who I had met
with and what I had done, but that was the State Department, not an
house of Commons
Q1656 Paul Farrelly: And have you ever been approached—it's not your fault if
you have been—by any intelligence agencies or their representatives, to
ask you to work for them or provide information to them?
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that I have, although they wouldn't properly
identify themselves. I have been taught what to look out for. My
grandfather was a military intelligence officer for 27 years and knew, when
I was young, that that would be a possibility. He told me what to look out
for and to say no.
Q1657 Paul Farrelly: Just a final question. You are a US national?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, only.
Q1658 Paul Farrelly: No joint nationalities?
Brittany Kaiser: No.
Q1659 Christian Matheson: I want to take you back to the Nigerian work that
you did. Was that the first work you undertook for SCL?
Brittany Kaiser: That was the first contract I won for the company, yes.
It wasn't the first work that I tried to work on. Yes, that was the first
successful contract that I won. It was my job to win contracts.
Q1660 Christian Matheson: You were working on behalf of the Goodluck
Brittany Kaiser: Not on behalf of the campaign, no. This was more of a
crisis communications campaign on behalf of private individuals who did
not believe that Buhari was the right candidate for the country. Goodluck
Jonathan's campaign didn't know we were in the country.
Q1661 Christian Matheson: I understand that your name is on an email to a
Libyan individual whose Nigerian business partner paid SCL for that work.
Is that right?
Brittany Kaiser: That is correct, yes.
Q1662 Christian Matheson: It has been alleged to me that on this matter you
also worked with somebody called Chase Ergen, from St Kitts and Nevis.
Does that sound familiar?
Brittany Kaiser: I do know him, yes. He is not from St Kitts; he is
Q1663 Christian Matheson: It has also been alleged to me that the fellow who
paid SCL for this work was rewarded by being given a diplomatic passport
from Dominica as a result of that. Is that anything you know about?
Brittany Kaiser: I do know that the clients who paid us to undertake that
work in Nigeria met with the Prime Minister of that country in Davos
during January of that year.
Q1664 Christian Matheson: Do you have any idea what happened at that
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: No.
Q1665 Christian Matheson: It has been alleged to me that a diplomatic
passport was obtained by the Nigerian fellow who was paying you for
this, and that a payment was made to the Dominican Prime Minister,
Brittany Kaiser: That is the correct Prime Minister, yes. I believe these
clients were quite scared of what would happen if Buhari were to become
president. Again, that was a consistent message throughout their entire
engagement with us—that they were scared for their lives and their
families' lives. I was involved in helping to set up that meeting where they
could explore having an option to leave the country with their families to
somewhere safe if their lives were to be threatened, yes.
Q1666 Christian Matheson: Okay, thank you for that. This was the person who
was also paying you? The Nigerian fellow was the one who was paying
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, that is correct.
Q1667 Christian Matheson: Can I just clarify something from your written
statement? A couple of colleagues have asked about this today, but I
want to clarify something in my own mind. On Brexit, you have given
Eldon Insurance in your written evidence. You say, "Cambridge Analytica
was initially engaged with Arron Banks, Andy Wigmore and Matthew
Richardson to design parallel proposals for Leave.EU, GoSkippy/Eldon
Insurance and the UK Independence Party." You are talking about having
parallel proposals, but did Messrs Banks, Wigmore and Richardson
approach you together, or did they all happen to approach you
Brittany Kaiser: My first meeting was with all of them in one room, and
Q1668 Christian Matheson: And were they all there representing Leave.EU,
GoSkippy/Eldon Insurance and the UK Independence party, or was one
representing Leave.EU, one representing GoSkippy and one representing
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that all of them at the time were representing
Leave.EU, and that was the main conversation. Julian Wheatland and I had
prepared a pitch for Leave.EU, and those were the individuals in
attendance. Now, just like many of our other clients around the world, if
they were going to engage with us on one project, some people would ask
for a saving if they were to do multiple projects with us, which we have
offered to people in the past. I think when they saw the numbers we were
asking for, they started to look at other work we could do, and also
started to look at where else we would be able to get data, as Leave.EU
did not have any data when they first approached us.
Q1669 Christian Matheson: Right, so there are three individuals and three
organisations, and one organisation, Leave.EU, is the lead organisation,
but the three individuals are also looking collectively at the other two
house of Commons
organisations and how they could be involved?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, we definitely had multiple conversations about how
each project could benefit the other.
Q1670 Christian Matheson: Did you appear and give a presentation at the
launch of Leave.EU?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, I did.
Q1671 Christian Matheson: You must have been a bit disappointed, then,
when you subsequently did not do any work for them?
Brittany Kaiser: When we did not do any further work for them after that
Q1672 Christian Matheson: So you had done some work? What was the nature
of the work that you had done so far?
Brittany Kaiser: We had taken receipt of UK Independence party data
and the survey data to do modelling and analysis that would inform
Leave.EU communications. Now we were waiting for the legal opinion on
how that could be used and we were given that on the day of the launch. I
don't know if the rest of that data was ever combined with Leave.EU
campaign data, although Andy Wigmore and Arron Banks's statement to
the press would suggest so.
Q1673 Christian Matheson: But you were surprised, having appeared on that
platform, not then to be taken on a little bit further?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, and for Arron Banks to have never paid any invoice
or signed a contract, although I wasn't on a commission structure for the
company, so it didn't make any personal difference to me.
Q1674 Christian Matheson: Can I then take you to this invoice we have been
looking at this morning, for £41,500? Was it ever paid?
Brittany Kaiser: I understand from the press two days ago that Arron
Banks made a donation to UKIP for the amount of £42,000 a week before
the vote. I don't know if that was housekeeping in relation to that
particular invoice, though when a representative from UKIP was asked
about it, they said yes, they received that donation, which I believe was to
cover that invoice. They just decided not to pass on the funds to
Cambridge Analytica. I believe that through making that transfer they
were admitting that work was done that needed to be paid for.
Q1675 Christian Matheson: But did the money ever reach Cambridge
Brittany Kaiser: No.
Q1676 Christian Matheson: So why did Cambridge Analytica just shrug their
shoulders and leave it at that? Forty-one thousand pounds seems quite a
fair chunk to me.
Brittany Kaiser: Not for our company at the time. We were pitching for
much larger sums of work. It became clear that that wasn't going to
house of Commons
happen, £500,000 to £800,000-something. We were really hoping that
that was the work that was going to be agreed upon. After contractual
disputes and not getting them to sign the contract, not getting them to
pay their invoice, eventually those conversations fizzled out, although I
don't think we stopped trying to get that money until even maybe after
the referendum vote.
Q1677 Christian Matheson: Did you ever consider legal action?
Brittany Kaiser: I remember there were conversations about possibly
putting the money in escrow until we maybe did more work for them. I
don't think that ever happened. I questioned why no legal action was
taken and I questioned why our company felt the need never to talk about
this particular issue that we had with potential clients who never signed on
the dotted line and so who were never official clients. I feel no need to
protect them. I don't know if anyone at Cambridge Analytica felt the need
to protect them for some reason.
Q1678 Christian Matheson: It doesn't sound a very reputable way to go about
business. If you have done the work for them, you can be fairly expected
to get the money off them.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, well, because they never signed the contract, we
never turned in the report. I only used the report to brief and work with
the teams that were relevant to making use of that information, which I
would normally say would be chargeable days of consultancy. But no, I
never handed over the report at the request of my superiors.
Q1679 Christian Matheson: Okay, and £41,000 in the great scheme of things
wasn't that much and business was potentially booming at the time?
Brittany Kaiser: In the United States, yes. We had no other
engagements in the United Kingdom.
Q1680 Christian Matheson: The correspondence address for Cambridge
Analytica LLC on that invoice is Suite 1000, 8383 Wilshire Boulevard. Is
Brittany Kaiser: Oh yes, that was our address in Arlington—not in
Arlington; in Virginia, was it?
Christian Matheson: I think so, yes.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, I helped to open that office in Virginia—in
Alexandria, exactly—which was our DC office until we moved to 1901
Pennsylvania Avenue, which is where it is currently.
Q1681 Christian Matheson: Is that 8383 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1000, the
same address as Breitbart?
Brittany Kaiser: No, Breitbart offices— I don't know where their main
office is, but they definitely had an office that I've been to before, in the
basement of a building called The Embassy on Capitol Hill, which Steve
Bannon lived in. I have never been to any other Breitbart offices, but that
house of Commons
particular building was rented, I think, only by Cambridge Analytica—at
least our floor was rented.
Q1682 Christian Matheson: I am informed that Suite 1000 is the registered
office of Freemark Financial Services and that Breitbart is also registered
there. Does that ring any bells?
Brittany Kaiser: No, I believe there are only employees of SCL USA
representing Cambridge Analytica that were working out of that office. I
was there for nine months.
Q1683 Christian Matheson: Did you come across a company there called
Glittering Steel, a film production company?
Brittany Kaiser: I believe that was Steve Bannon's production company.
Q1684 Christian Matheson: Were they registered at the same office?
Brittany Kaiser: No, I think they worked out of The Embassy. They could
have been registered there, I have no idea about the registration
Q1685 Christian Matheson: Can I move on now? A couple of colleagues—Mr
Farrelly, for example—talked about the stuff you are doing at the
moment. Are you still advising Siglo?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1686 Christian Matheson: Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, it's a blockchain protocol for allowing individuals to
monetise their own data and be rewarded in tokens that are traded for air
time. Basically, there is an app that takes control of your log screen and
shows you targeted content. You decide what data you want to share with
the app and it will show you content accordingly.
If you decide to watch that content or answer surveys, you are rewarded
in tokens that pay for your phone bill. About 1.2 million individuals in
Mexico and Colombia use that. The app is actually called Pig.gi. They put
tokens in your Pig.gi bank that you use to pay for your phone bill. There
are also families who use that for remittances, so they earn tokens to pay
for their families' phone bills.
Q1687 Christian Matheson: Why Mexico and Colombia?
Brittany Kaiser: My friends, who co-founded the company, have spent a
lot of their lives in Mexico. It is one of the reasons that I asked Alexander
Nix over and over for years if I could open up a Mexico City office. I have a
lot of friends who live there and it is a lot cheaper to open a technology
company there in terms of staffing and office and everything. The
technology industry there is also quite underdeveloped compared with the
United States, so it is a lot easier to pitch and win contracts. Although it
takes longer to negotiate them, there is not very much competition in
Q1688 Christian Matheson: But it is registered in Gibraltar. It is Pig.gi, isn't it?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1689 Christian Matheson: Why is it registered in Gibraltar, if everybody is
working in Mexico and Colombia?
Brittany Kaiser: Because it is a blockchain company. Right now,
blockchain is not regulated in a straightforward way. So, if you register in
a location that already has laws that govern the use of digital assets on
the blockchain, you can understand what your legal implications are. But
in countries that have not yet legislated on that—in Mexico the new
FinTech laws have not yet been approved by the President—you are not
sure what judgments are going to be made about your company, when
there are no laws yet about it.
Q1690 Christian Matheson: So you are operating in countries B and C but you
are operating under the laws of country A.
Brittany Kaiser: Well, there are no laws about the technology that is
being used. It is too new. Mexico has no legislation on it at the moment.
Q1691 Christian Matheson: Does Cambridge Analytica have a shareholding in
Brittany Kaiser: No. There was an investment that was offered and also
back-end work for building out some of the database and infrastructure
that was offered. That relationship was severed due to the inability of
Cambridge Analytica to handle their data obligations properly. That
company was not interested in going with a company that could not
guarantee that their users' data would be protected.
Q1692 Christian Matheson: There are presidential elections coming up this
year in Colombia. I take it that none of the activities that you have been
involved in so far will have a political angle to them in terms of data
sharing or data activity in Colombia.
Brittany Kaiser: No. I was in contact with three of the presidential
campaigns in Colombia but we never even did a pitch or a meeting, let
alone an undertaking, for any work there. I have never even been to
Colombia. SCL and Cambridge have no business in Colombia whatsoever.
Q1693 Christian Matheson: Mowisat—what is that?
Brittany Kaiser: It's one of my friends' satellite telecommunications
companies in Mexico. More than half of Mexico does not have access to the
internet at home. In the rural areas it would cost the Government billions
of dollars to build up that infrastructure. So, this company designed a
programme where you could use cheap and portable satellite dishes to set
up in areas where, for quite a wide radius, you would be able to
triangulate satellite signals and give wi-fi access to individuals. They had
never had it before.
Q1694 Christian Matheson: Does it involve harvesting data? Is there a data-
harvesting aspect to it?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: I suppose there could be, but right now there isn't, no.
It could be used for that, if the software that was used for accessing the
wireless had a data-collection method—that's the same with any wireless
you use anywhere in the world.
Q1695 Christian Matheson: With any of these current activities, do you still
have a business relationship with Alexander Nix?
Brittany Kaiser: No, I don't.
Q1696 Christian Matheson: When did you last see him?
Brittany Kaiser: That's a good question.
Q1697 Christian Matheson: When were you last in contact with him?
Brittany Kaiser: I think I last saw him in Davos, at the World Economic
Q1698 Christian Matheson: I have a couple of final questions if I may, Chair.
There was a hack of data from Uber, the taxi firm. Have you ever come
across that data being used in any way, for example by some of the
Brittany Kaiser: No, although Cambridge Analytica had meetings with
the CTO of Uber in California maybe a year and a half or two years ago. I
don't believe anything came of that, but a conversation was had.
Q1699 Christian Matheson: One final question: you referred to having two sets
of business cards—who did you work for?
Brittany Kaiser: The SCL Group, technically, was my employer.
Q1700 Christian Matheson: In your own mind, who did you work for?
Brittany Kaiser: When I joined, I worked only for the SCL Group
because, as a registered Democrat, I did not want to work for the
Republicans. I later joined Cambridge Analytica, mostly to help build our
commercial business out of New York.
Q1701 Christian Matheson: Was there ever a time when you were working for
Brittany Kaiser: Of course—at all times. As soon as I joined Cambridge
Analytica, I was still working for SCL Group. Cambridge Analytica as an
entity did not employ anybody, so I was always an employee of the SCL
Q1702 Christian Matheson: Which company's name was on your payslip?
Brittany Kaiser: It was SCL Group, and then it turned to SCL USA.
Q1703 Chair: Is it the case that one of your colleagues at Bueno Capital also
worked at Mowisat and previously shared an address at Cambridge
Analytica as well? Is that a coincidence or is there a connection between
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: We all lived together as friends in Mexico. I've known
these people for over a decade.
Q1704 Chair: So it is more of a personal connection than a commercial one?
Brittany Kaiser: Personal friends, yes.
Q1705 Chair: I'd like to go back and ask a couple of questions about the
campaign in Nigeria, which was raised earlier. You said that you did not
know that the consultants who were hired to work on the project worked
for a part of Black Cube?
Brittany Kaiser: No, I had never heard of the company Black Cube until
it was brought to my attention in the press.
Q1706 Chair: What did you know about these people when you hired them? You
said that they had experience of working in elections in Africa; what else
did you know about them?
Brittany Kaiser: That they had also worked on elections or for
Governments in Latin America and that they had previously undertaken
Government contracts for intelligence gathering.
Q1707 Chair: You said that Sam Patten ran that side of the campaign. Is that
Brittany Kaiser: He ran the SCL side of the campaign. I know that he
met those people—the other consultants-in-country. I don't know the
nature of those meetings, but he was the one who was hired by the SCL
Group to run that communications campaign. He was an ad hoc consultant
for us on our global roster. He did not work for us full time.
Q1708 Chair: So SCL brought Sam Patten in as a consultant to run this
campaign. Was it on Sam Patten's recommendation that these other
consultants were brought in as well?
Brittany Kaiser: No, it was just upon my introduction, because I knew
that these people existed and that they had worked in Nigeria before. I did
not know anyone else in the world that had ever even worked in Nigeria in
political, so I introduced them to the clients and the clients decided to
start an initial engagement. After they weren't satisfied with what they
received from them, they did not re-engage, from what I understand.
Q1709 Chair: Who introduced you to these consultants?
Brittany Kaiser: I was introduced by some friends in Israel.
Q1710 Chair: Okay. You said that these consultants had worked in intelligence
before. There is quite a big industry of ex-intelligence officers working in
communications. Did you believe they were ex-Mossad agents?
Brittany Kaiser: They could have been, yes.
Q1711 Chair: You knew that they were Israeli.
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: I knew they were Israeli and that they had undertaken
Government intelligence-gathering contracts before—they had that on
their CV, shall we say.
Q1712 Chair: You said that your grandfather had been an intelligence officer.
Was that in Israel or in America?
Brittany Kaiser: Based in the United States. He was still in infantry when
he worked in Korea and Vietnam. He came back to the United States and
joined military intelligence.
Q1713 Chair: In the United States?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes.
Q1714 Chair: These consultants were recommended to you; they were Israelis,
therefore there was a strong chance that they had worked in Israeli
intelligence. Had you met them before or worked on any projects with
Brittany Kaiser: I had never worked with them before, no, but I did meet
them when I was in Israel on a trip to Tel Aviv, and that is why I knew
who they were.
Q1715 Chair: Had they worked with Sam Patten before?
Brittany Kaiser: Not that I know of, but I would not be privy to that
information. I had never met Sam before that, either. I met Sam for one
day for one meeting where he came to London to get briefed about the
project before he went to Nigeria. I did not really know either of them very
Q1716 Chair: Did you take advice about any other consultancies you hired?
Brittany Kaiser: We, in general, had a list of other companies that we
had worked with, or we could research other companies to suggest where
consultants could fill in for products or services that we did not offer. For
example, in terms of our relationship with AIQ, we could not offer our own
digital campaigns or our own software development, but AIQ could do that
on our behalf.
Q1717 Chair: You said that their role was intelligence gathering. What do you
understand that to entail?
Brittany Kaiser: They had given the examples on where individuals or
Governments had been defrauded, and they were able to trace where
money had come from in order to find criminals.
Q1718 Chair: And how would they do that?
Brittany Kaiser: I guess they would use different types of data software
to trace transfers between bank accounts and follow the money, but I
don't really know how that works.
Q1719 Chair: That could be called hacking, though, couldn't it?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: If you improperly access data then yes, people refer to
that as hacking.
Q1720 Chair: It would be difficult to get records about people's financial
transactions by properly accessing it, because you then need the
permission of their bank or the individual themselves.
Brittany Kaiser: I do believe that if you are working on behalf of the
Government, you can get permissions to do financial tracing through
Q1721 Chair: But in this case, they were not working on behalf of a
Government; they were working on behalf of a political campaign funded
by a mysterious backer.
Brittany Kaiser: That is true, but I do not think they did anything
financial on the Nigeria campaign.
Q1722 Chair: So you do not believe they were involved in any hacking during
the campaign of data and information about financial transactions or
emails or anything else?
Brittany Kaiser: If you call it hacking to go into a campaign, convince
them you are part of the campaign and then leave with data, then I
suppose it is, but I would not call it that.
Q1723 Chair: How do you distinguish between the two?
Brittany Kaiser: Hacking usually means that you are remotely breaking
into the back end of someone's data security and getting data in that kind
of way. I do not think that is how they obtained information. I think they
did it in person with permission to use the computers.
Q1724 Chair: Breaking in the front end, rather than the back end.
Brittany Kaiser: I guess you could say that.
Q1725 Chair: This does sound questionable in terms of the legality of what they
were doing and whether they were engaged in criminal acts. Does that
not concern you?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, it is concerning. I did not know what they were up
to until it had already been done. Again, I did not negotiate a contract with
them or for them or send a proposal on their behalf. I just made an
Q1726 Chair: Your position seems very unusual and slightly vulnerable in this
campaign. You have hired a group of people who you do not really know,
who have been introduced to you. You do not really know what they are
doing. They could be hacking or committing criminal acts—we do not
really know. There is also a dissemination of created materials to support
the campaign, of which you do not see any during the course of the
campaign. What is your role in the campaign?
Brittany Kaiser: My role was to win a contract for the SCL Group. I had
worked there for maybe two and a half weeks when this occurred. It was
house of Commons
quite fast paced. I was not really briefed into everything that was going on
or all our products and services. I was told that my job was to win a
contract. When I was introduced to individuals who were interested in
paying money for elections communications, I thought, "Okay, that was
pretty quick." I thought it would take me months to find somebody who
was interested in that.
Q1727 Chair: But you are then responsible for spending that money as well,
aren't you? You are hiring people, commissioning work and all the rest of
Brittany Kaiser: No, we have someone called the senior acting director of
the project. This time we had two individuals who were in charge of doling
out the money and what that is used for.
Q1728 Chair: Who are they in this case?
Brittany Kaiser: Sam Patten was one of them—the external consultant—
and our internal consultant was a woman called Ceris Bailes.
Q1729 Chair: It is a very weird structure, isn't it? You have Sam Patten, who
does not work for SCL and is brought in as a consultant and sits above
you. Then there's you. You hire in consultants who have been
recommended to you, who you do not really know. You are not
responsible for what they do, you are not responsible for the creative
work produced during the campaign, and you are not responsible for
handing out money to the different contractors, either—and you have
only been at the company for two and a half weeks. It sounds like an
extraordinary organisational structure.
Brittany Kaiser: It does.
Q1730 Chair: One where your position is either very exposed, or you are
deliberately in a position where you are being told to hire people and
move people around, without ever really knowing what is going on. It
would seem to me that a structure like that, if you were engaged in
criminal activity, was deliberately designed to limit the liability of SCL, in
this case, because so much of it was being done through contractors who
were working at arm's length, or in the dark, from the people who hired
Brittany Kaiser: I would say it sounds pretty disorganised, actually, but
in this case it was definitely not intentional. I went full speed ahead into a
new position where I was only a consultant, and I had a goal, which was
to win these contracts and try to quickly put together the people who
could actually achieve any of the services that were being asked for by
those potential clients.
Political campaigns all over the world are like that, because as a contractor
to a political campaign, the longest you are ever going to work for
somebody is probably a year—usually six to nine months—which is why it
was interesting for me to work for the SCL Group. When I had worked on
political campaigns before, I looked for a new job every six to nine
months. There are periods of time when there is no work to do, so it is
house of Commons
very unstable and it is not something that you can usually do
professionally. The SCL Group seemed like a good option because there
would constantly be work all around the world and hopefully no gaps, as
long as I could do my job and find political projects to work on.
Q1731 Chair: With a project like the Nigeria project, where is the work being
done? Where are you based and where are they based? In terms of your
work, how much of it is done remotely? Is it all done remotely? How
much is done in-country?
Brittany Kaiser: I had meetings with these individuals in London, Madrid
and Washington DC, then the contract was signed. The only other meeting
that I undertook on behalf of that campaign was seeing those other
consultants when I came back to London. There were no other meetings
that I engaged with on behalf of that campaign. That was run by the
Q1732 Chair: So you're based remotely while it is going on. You are effectively
responsible for putting the team together, but you are not in-country.
They are then left to get on with the campaign.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, it was suggested that, in case I wanted to go, I
could get a visa for Nigeria to go with the team, but Alexander said that
there were so many other opportunities that I could explore that I should
spend my time winning a new contract while that campaign was run
separately from myself.
Q1733 Chair: There are a couple of things I want to round up on before we
close. You mentioned Breitbart in your written testimony. You posed the
question about whether Breitbart UK data could have been used in the
referendum campaign, because Breitbart data in America was being used
as part of the data sets that SCL and Cambridge Analytica used in
America. Is that correct?
Brittany Kaiser: That's correct. Part of my sales pitch to Republican
clients was that we were the sole redistributors of Breitbart's engagement
data—all the data that they collected as an online media agency. I just
posed the question, because I know that there are issues around using
media data for political purposes. It might be interesting for people to
Q1734 Chair: It is certainly an interesting point. I think we would be interested
in following up on that. You said right at the beginning that you had done
political work in Mexico. Is that right? Are you still engaged in any
political work in Mexico?
Brittany Kaiser: No, we're not.
Q1735 Chair: Going back to what we discussed earlier about the data collected
through Pig.gi, presumably that could be used in political campaigns as
Brittany Kaiser: It could have been, but it never was.
Q1736 Chair: But it could be in the future. Would there be a restriction on that?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: I don't think that users have opted-in for their data to
be used for those political purposes. They would need to sign new terms
and conditions upon using the app.
Q1737 Chair: Okay, but that would still apply. Could you confirm for the record,
you mentioned a former housemate friend of yours who was involved in
Bueno Capital and Mowisat, and had been at Cambridge Analytica—who
Brittany Kaiser: There was no one who was also at Cambridge Analytica,
but Vlatko Gigov was part of Mowisat and Bueno Capital, and also Chase
Ergen—both—but neither of them were ever employed by Cambridge
Q1738 Chair: Okay, but that was the person you were referring to.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, they are my co-founders of Bueno Capital, and they
both worked for Mowisat.
Q1739 Chair: You have alleged in your testimony today, going back to the
referendum campaign, that you believe that Leave.EU as an organisation
and Arron Banks as well may have broken data protection law on two
grounds: the processing of data outside of the UK, and the merging of
consumer data with political data to form the data set for the
Brittany Kaiser: Or political data from the party with political data from
the campaign. If individuals had not opted in to that being a use case of
their data, then I do not believe that those data sets could have been
matched and modelled in that way, or at least not used for
communications purposes of a political nature.
Q1740 Chair: When did you personally become aware that working in that way
would be illegal?
Brittany Kaiser: It would be illegal if the proper opt-in was not
undertaken. With a lot of our clients, if they wanted to use certain data
sets, we ran opt-in campaigns. It is very possible to make these data sets
usable for matching and modelling. That is something that can easily be
done with a little bit of money.
Q1741 Chair: Was that part of your recommendation?
Brittany Kaiser: It would have been, of course. This has no full
strategy—this is an initial document, because we had not been paid for the
first proposal that I had done, so I did not want to put too much energy
into exploring this if Arron banks was not planning on signing a contract,
or paying for even phase 1.
Q1742 Chair: But is this discussed in the legal opinion that you supplied the
Brittany Kaiser: No, because the legal opinion was only for the UK
Independence party data. We would have had to have a new legal opinion
before undertaking this piece of work.
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Q1743 Chair: But some of the same principles would apply. I was just
wondering about how upfront people were. You have made quite a
serious allegation. I am sure that that will be of interest not only to our
Committee but to the Information Commissioner and the Electoral
Commission as well. I am interested in to what extent people knew at the
time that they were walking into a legal minefield, and that a lot of this
data might not be usable without consent, or whether, as you suggest in
your written submission, Arron Banks thought that it was all his data and
therefore he could do with it what he wanted.
Brittany Kaiser: I wasn't fully aware of all the different implications of
this at the time, or I probably would have said something about the fact
that everybody in the call centre had told me that they were using the
data of clients or prospects of Eldon Insurance. I was not completely
aware of ownership and opt-in. Obviously the longer I spent with
Cambridge Analytica and the more allegations came out about the
company in the press, I became very well briefed in what these laws look
Q1744 Chair: Sure, but as part of you presenting your strategy and doing the
work that you have done, I think you have been quite clear that, as far as
you are concerned, you were working on the campaign but just not being
paid for it. I think you are pretty clear on that.
Brittany Kaiser: indicated assent.
Q1745 Chair: As part of that, did you have discussions with them where you
said, "This strategy is contingent on you having the consents you need in
order to use the data in this way-otherwise you are breaking the law"?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. In more than one of these proposals, in the
different points that I lay out-you can look through them in your own
time-it says that undertaking the work, or taking receipt of any data sets,
was contingent on having a specific legal opinion drawn out about the
work proposed in the document.
Q1746 Chair: So your view would be that if they did not do that, then that is
their call, but they were warned that they should.
Brittany Kaiser: Not only were they warned, but in the opinion by Philip
Coppel, QC there were quite a few pieces of advice that said that
something like this would at least have to have been undertaken in the
United Kingdom only, with no data moved to another country at minimum.
Opt-in structures and the Data Protection Act were mentioned as well.
Q1747 Paul Farrelly: I've just got one more question, because Christopher
Wylie made his position quite clear. Ms Kaiser, do you hold any personal
opinions on whether it is a good thing or a bad thing for the UK to leave
the European Union?
Brittany Kaiser: No, I don't. I am not a voter here. I do believe in a lot of
the democratic structures that have been set up by the European Union. I
believe in their human rights decisions and their upholding of individual
rights and freedoms, so I think that the UK's support of that is critical to
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the European Union continuing to uphold that in other countries, but I also
have lived and worked all over the world, and I understand that leaving
Malaysia was the best thing that ever happened to Singapore, so I can see
it on both sides.
Paul Farrelly: I was just curious, because of your impetus to get involved
in the politics of Obama, and the company that you kept at Cambridge
Analytica for three years. Thank you.
Q1748 Christian Matheson: Sophie Schmidt worked for Cambridge Analytica at
one point, did she not?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes I believe she did an internship in 2010.
Q1749 Christian Matheson: That was before you got there?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes it was before I got there.
Q1750 Christian Matheson: Obviously she has strong connections to Uber and
to Google. When you were there, did you have any other contacts with
some of these big data companies such as Google or Uber?
Brittany Kaiser: Not Uber, although I was informed about that meeting
happening in California a couple of years ago with their CTO. But with
Microsoft, Google and a few other companies of that nature, and
Facebook, they had two different political teams in the United States—so
they had their Republican team and their Democrat team, who usually
inhabited separate offices on separate floors. My consultants in
Washington DC would work closely with the Republican team on how we
would use their tools to the best benefit for our clients.
Q1751 Christian Matheson: But it was a business relationship rather than a
nexus of people at the top of the tech sector.
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, they had nothing to do with executives or key
decision makers. It was a service that those technology companies provide
to clients, and Cambridge Analytica was a client because we were making
purchases of digital advertising space through them.
Christian Matheson: Thank you.
Q1752 Chair: Last couple of questions. Going back to Sam Patten: SCL brought
him in to work on election campaigns. Can you name any other
campaigns on which he worked?
Brittany Kaiser: He was brought in to work on Mexico, but in the end
that campaign was not signed off or paid for, so he came back. I do not
believe he undertook much work there at all.
Q1753 Chair: And what about in America?
Brittany Kaiser: In America, yes. I am trying to remember what he did
for us in Washington DC. Maybe he was a consultant for Senator Cruz's
campaign. I was copied into something where he was organising an event
or a protest on Capitol Hill. I do not remember what that was for. I think it
was in opposition to sanctions against Iran being dropped. Senator Cruz
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and Donald Trump did a joint event on the Hill, I do not know if that was
the same event that Sam was consulting to. I will have to look that up for
Chair: But you think that could have been it.
Brittany Kaiser: Possibly, yes.
Q1754 Chair: Going back to Mexico, did he work on some of the Caribbean
elections as well?
Brittany Kaiser: Again that is possible. I knew that Sam was a trusted
senior consultant to the company when I joined in 2014, which is why it
was suggested that he was somebody I should work with and consider
giving a job to.
Q1755 Chair: Did he work with SCL in Trinidad?
Brittany Kaiser: Possibly, but I think the Trinidad campaign happened
before I even worked in the company.
Q1756 Chair: And St Kitt's. You were involved in the St Kitt's campaign?
Brittany Kaiser: I wasn't, no.
Q1757 Chair: Okay. And you are not aware whether he worked on that?
Brittany Kaiser: St Kitt's: Alexander was the campaign manager himself,
I think, at the time, just because the company was very small and did not
have very many consultants. He spent a lot of time there as an individual.
Chair: Thank you very much. Final question.
Q1758 Julian Knight: Sorry, I have been coming in and out of the session. The
way you have handled the questions has been very impressive. I want to
get your perspective as well. What do you think legislation should do to
better protect people's data and to empower consumers? Obviously you
have been at the sharp end of this. What do you think about what should
Brittany Kaiser: I'm very glad that you asked that. That has been the
main thing that I have been spending my time on since it became obvious
that even the current legislation is not sufficient to protect an individual's
data. Right now, even in the European Union, where your personal data
can be seen as property, there is not a transparent structure for you to
understand what data has been collected about you, where it exists, and
what these data sets look like and who they are shared with or for what
purposes those data are used. That is number one—absolutely no
permission-based structure to that whatsoever.
There is not a very easy way to understand the portability of your data
either at the moment. So, the right to delete—you can spend a lot of
money with lawyers and get Google to delete some things that could be
defamatory, but that is very difficult and you would have to have a lot of
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money to undertake a process like that. So portability of data is incredibly
Then the ability to monetise your own data for yourself. Think about it
right now. The largest companies in the world, Google, at $700 billion,
Facebook, at I think now $400 billion, after its engagements with
Cambridge and others—it used to be $500 billion—and then Amazon and
Alphabet and Apple: these are the five most powerful companies in the
world, with trillions and trillions of dollars. The sole worth of their
companies is the fact that they own and possess and hold and use the
personal data of people from all around the world. That is what their
power is; those are their assets. Their assets are other people's digital
I personally believe, and I am backed up by a lot of my co-founders at a
lobbying organisation I started called the Digital Asset Trade Association,
DATA, which we founded in January—we are specifically campaigning for
new legislation on how people can have rights and access to their own
digital assets and how those are governed—that the best way to move
forward is for people to possess their data like their property. If you think
about it, Airbnb has allowed you to monetise your own property, but
before somebody comes to stay in your house, you know what your
property's going to be used for, what their intentions are for it. You agree
a price and that's paid before you hand away the keys. Why can't our data
assets be the same?
Not only would that allow individuals to decide if they wanted to—or not—
share their data for different purposes. You might want to monetise it for
advertising, or you might want to allow politicians access to your data to
understand more about their issues and see the campaign communications
materials, or you might want to monetise your medical data for cancer
research. You could be given all of these decisions and decide whether or
not you wanted to engage in that. Also, the world could be provided with a
universal basic income. It's not a lot of money, but if you think about the
trillions of dollars that are now possessed by technology giants and by
Governments, if some of that was redistributed among individuals as
compensation for the use of their property, we would really be taking
steps in the right direction.
Julian Knight: Thank you.
Q1759 Chair: Are you still in touch with Alexander Nix?
Brittany Kaiser: No, I'm not. It's unfortunate, because he was a friend of
mine and a mentor to me for many years. I hope he has learned a lot
through this and eventually finds a way to make amends for what has
Q1760 Chair: You've seen from some of the evidence we published from Emma
Briant yesterday as well, it touches on his relationship with WikiLeaks, or
whether he had a relationship with WikiLeaks and whether he had a
direct relationship with Julian Assange or just through intermediaries. Do
you have any sense on that at all?
house of Commons
Brittany Kaiser: I found out about it from the press that he had reached
out to, I guess, a random email that he found on their website to ask if he
could disseminate the materials that they had on Hillary Clinton, which I
found rather shocking. It's a weird cold email to send.
Q1761 Chair: When he gave evidence to the Committee, he said it was via a
speaker bureau, where he knew—
Brittany Kaiser: Yeah, someone who takes speaking inquiries for the
Q1762 Chair: Nigel Oakes, in his evidence—or what Emma Briant has given us
as evidence in terms of the interview she had with him—he says Nix just
called Assange up and asked whether they could help disseminate some
of the information on Hillary Clinton that WikiLeaks had. This suggests a
slightly more direct route of contact. I don't know how you phone Julian
Brittany Kaiser: I was going to say, I don't think it's possible to phone.
Q1763 Chair: I know how to email him, because he's emailed us through his
intermediaries, but I don't know how easy that is. It just suggests a more
direct relationship than the slightly more round-the-houses one that was
described by Mr Nix himself.
Brittany Kaiser: From what I understand, he made this cold approach
through an email and he received a response that there was no interest. I
don't think you can call up Julian Assange, so that was probably
misleading in the evidence.
Q1764 Chair: You could stand outside the embassy and shout up to him maybe.
In your working career, have you had much engagement with WikiLeaks
and Julian Assange at all, through his representatives? Has that formed
part of your work at any time?
Brittany Kaiser: I have undertaken quite a few degrees, theses and
research in human rights. When the Iraq war files were first released, I
taught myself how to use an FTP client so that I could read those
documents and use them as primary resource materials. A lot of my
theses in the past have, in my biography, WikiLeaks documents as
documentary evidence of the crimes against humanity that I was
Q1765 Chair: As part of your academic research, did you try to reach out to
WikiLeaks directly and talk to people about their work?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes, we had some mutual friends. I believe that John
Jones, Qc has been talked about in the press, and my relationship with
him. He was one of the WikiLeaks legal team.
Q1766 Chair: I don't want to intrude if this is a private matter, but what was the
nature of your relationship with John Jones?
Brittany Kaiser: I was a consultant to Doughty Street International,
which is a chambers that I respect very much.
house of Commons
Chair: Just as well.
Brittany Kaiser: He was starting a new section of Doughty Street in The
Hague, so I went there to interview for a position and he wanted to take
me on. I am not a qualified barrister, although I had intended to
undertake those qualifications. He had a private consultancy called Day
Jones, which he said he could employ me through so that I could help him
with research, casework, and campaigning. I brought a few human rights
cases of individuals who were prisoners of conscience in jails around the
world, to see whether he and the team at Doughty Street could help these
Q1767 Chair: Was Alexander Nix aware of this work when he hired you?
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. I had introduced him to John Jones.
Q1768 Chair: If Alexander Nix wanted to reach out to Julian Assange, couldn't
he do it through you?
Brittany Kaiser: That's what I was wondering when I found that out from
the press—he could have asked me to put him in touch with the legal
team. But he didn't.
Q1769 Chair: It is interesting because he says: "They had no way of knowing
how they could get in touch with Julian Assange", but actually he knew
that you knew, and that you worked for him, and he knew that when he
Brittany Kaiser: Yes. That is why I was confused when I found that out
from the press. Maybe he didn't want people to know that he was making
those types of approaches, which I suppose would be intelligent.
Chair: I think that concludes the questions from us today. Thank you very
much. We understand what it takes to go through this process, and you
have put together a lot of information that is hugely helpful to the
Committee's work, and you have been able to talk at great length and in
great detail about that. We are very grateful.
Just before we close the session, I have to make a short announcement
about Alexander Nix. Alexander Nix was due to give evidence to the
Committee tomorrow, but his legal representation has said that he is now
not able to do that as a consequence of him having been served with an
information notice and being subject to the criminal investigation by the
Information Commissioner's Office. We have taken advice as a Committee
from the parliamentary authorities on this matter. He has not been
charged with any offence and the sub judice rules do not apply in this case
and there is no ongoing legal proceeding. We will discuss this with the
Information Commissioner on Thursday, but it is certainly the intention of
the Committee to take this matter further and consider issuing a summons
for Mr Nix to appear on a named day some point in the near future. I hope
we will be able to update people about that early next week. Thank you