Cambridge Analytica admits influencing polls in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A key official of Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm banned by Facebook, has told British Channel 4 that his company has done electioneering work in Malaysia.

Mark Turnbull, managing director of CA Political Global, said this during a series of undercover videos filmed over the last year.

The Channel 4 News said it staged a "sting operation" in which it said had secretly recorded top Cambridge Analytica executives claiming they could use bribes, former spies and Ukrainian sex workers to entrap politicians around the world.

The sting operation was conducted as part of an ongoing investigation into Cambridge Analytica, a data consulting firm that worked with President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign.

"If you're collecting data on people and you're profiling them that gives you more insight that you can use to know how to segment the population to give them messaging about issues that they care about and language, and imagery that they're likely to engage with, and we use that in America, we use that in Africa, that's what we do as a company.

"We've done it in Mexico, we've done it in Malaysia and now we're going to Brazil," Turnbull said, proceeding to mention Australia and China.

Reuters reported that British privacy regulators are seeking a warrant to search the offices of the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica late Monday following reports that the company may have improperly gained access to data on 50 million Facebook users.

The move came as US and European lawmakers demanded an explanation of how the consulting firm, which worked on President Donald Trump's election campaign, gained access to the data. In the US, members of Congress called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify about Facebook's actions.

Facebook said on Monday it had hired forensic auditors from the firm Stroz Friedberg to investigate and determine whether Cambridge Analytica still had the data.

London-based Cambridge Analytica said it strongly denied the media claims, and that it deleted all Facebook data it obtained from a third-party application in 2014 after learning the information did not adhere to data protection rules.