The whistleblower who says social media data harvesting is “grossly unethical” personally wrote a pitch to Vote Leave offering to harvest data for them during the referendum campaign, Guido can reveal. Christopher Wylie, the pink-haired former Cambridge Analytica employee turned Observer whistleblower, has spent the last week talking up his opposition to data harvesting:
“It was a grossly unethical experiment because you are playing with an entire country, the psychology of an entire country without their consent or awareness… It’s like Nixon on steroids.”
Yet after Wylie left Cambridge Analytica, he sent a pitch to Vote Leave offering to harvest data for them during the referendum. In a pitch sent to Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings in January 2016, Wylie wrote:
“We will trial social data harvesting for Vote Leave and use some of our own technology to target and acquire online data about UK voters.”
Wylie went on:
“Several online panels would be set up to target a cross section of voters… We would try to further increase the sample by accessing the social networks of the panel respondents. We would also harvest online and social data”
This is the email Wylie sent to Cummings personally offering to harvest data:
This is Cummings’ reply rejecting Wylie’s offer:
You can read Wylie’s rejected pitch to Vote Leave in full here. And you can read Cummings’ blog post responding to the latest Observer claims, and explaining how he thought Wylie was a “charlatan“, here.
The Observer and other Remainers seem determined to use Wylie’s claims about “unethical” data harvesting to somehow discredit the referendum result. What they haven’t mentioned is Wylie was himself offering to harvest data for Vote Leave after he left Cambridge Analytica. How does he explain that one?