Collins Invites Censoring Singaporean MP To Sit on His Committee

Damian Collins’ 24 strong international committee skewering Facebook today includes a Singaporean MP by the name of Edwin Tong. Tong sits on a Singaporean select committee that recommended giving the Singaporean government yet more powers to crack down on ‘fake news’. The Singaporean government ranks 151 on world press freedom index…

Facebook VP to DCMS Committee: This Doesn’t Look Great

Former Lib Dem MP for Sheffield Hallam and serving Peer Richard Allan has said that Mark Zuckerberg not appearing before the DCMS Committee today is “not great.”

Despite serious questions beign raised over the ethical behaviour of how the Committee went about obtaining documents from a US software developer, the Committee has brought together legislators from nine countries to form what they modestly call the ‘International Grand Committee on Disinformation and Fake News.’

Never knowingly understated Committee Chairman Damian Collins must be loving this…

Damian’s Dodgy Data Discovery

Carole Cadwalladr has exclusively revealed that self-promoting DCMS Committee Chairman Damian Collins made the extraordinary move to seize documents from the founder of a small US software company called ‘Six4Three’ over the weekend – in time for Carole’s deadline. The founder Ted Kramer, who is currently suing Facebook in a messy lawsuit in California, just happened to be in the UK on a ‘business trip’. The DCMS Committee apparently magically knew about this brief trip, the hotel the founder was staying at, and that he had the documents with him. This remarkably detailed information led to Collins initiating a parliamentary procedure to seize the documents, complete with the theatrical sending of a serjeant at arms to the founder’s hotel with a “final warning” and an escort to parliament. It all seems a little choreographed…

It appears to Guido that this entire theatrical codswallop story is a stitch up. The ‘Six4Three’ founder seems to have flown to the UK specifically to have the documents seized – which Facebook wants to keep confidential. NBC’s tech investigations editor Olivia Solon has suggested that if that weren’t the case you would “be seeing statements from his lawyers decrying jurisdictional overreach / worrying misuse of power.” Why did ‘Six4Three’ founder have the documents with him, under seal, on his trip to the UK?

If Guido was the sort of journalist who made unsubstantiated speculative allegations that later had to be corrected he’d wonder, without any firm evidential basis, if Damian is part of a charade to get these documents out in the open and Carole Cadwalldr knows this because she has been in touch with Ted Kramer, the owner of Six4Three. He is suing Facebook, claiming that “Facebook itself is the biggest violator of data misuse in the history of the software industry”. On this point he is probably correct.

Should Damian be co-operating with an attempt to subvert United States due legal process? Isn’t Collins’ committee’s whole shtick meant to be sticking up for due process and the rule of law?

Damian Collins Calls For Election or Second Referendum if Deal Voted Down

“If we couldn’t get an agreement and we were basically stuck in a situation where it was a deal we don’t want or the cliff edge, I think if we reach that point I don’t think as Parliament we could just stand back and watch the country fall off the edge of a cliff without asking the people whether that was a step they wanted to take… some mechanism of consulting the people – be it a general election or a second referendum.”

Number 10 might see this as a somewhat useful intervention from uber-Remainer Collins, scaring eurosceptics into backing May’s deal as the only way to avoid a mechanism to stop Brexit. On the other hand this is yet another big voice against the draft withdrawal agreement. Does anyone outside of Government at all support it..?

The Other Cambridge Analytica: Whistleblower Wylie’s Own Dodgy Data Dealings

While the ICO’s report into data use in the referendum principally served to blow apart Carole Cadwalladr’s main Brexit conspiracy, one aspect of the report that has largely been overlooked is the role of data-hustler-turned-whistleblower Chris Wylie. The one who made an international media and public speaking career out of setting up Cambridge Analytica and then dobbing them in…

A notable feature of the ICO report is how few people are explicitly named in it – not even Arron Banks is. The few that are include Alexander Nix, the CEO of Cambridge Analytica, Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the academic whose company harvested the data behind the Cambridge Analytica scandal, a couple of other individuals related to Cambridge Analytica, and Chris Wylie. Not exactly the good guys in this whole saga…

Wylie’s inclusion in the report is not in the context of his role as whistleblower, it is as a key part of how Cambridge Analytica came to acquire the Facebook data at the heart of the scandal in the first place:

“In May 2014, Dr Aleksandr Kogan… offered to undertake the work himself as he had developed his own app called the ‘CPW Lab App’… We have seen evidence that CA staff, including whistleblower Chris Wylie, were involved in setting up these contacts through their networks of friends and colleagues; many of whom had been involved in earlier campaigns in North America…

“Once the company was set up and a contract signed with CA, Dr Kogan, with some help from Chris Wylie, overhauled the ‘CPW Lab App’ changing the name, terms and conditions of the app into the ‘GSR App’ which ultimately became thisisyourdigitallife (the app).”

Wylie himself has never denied his role in creating Cambridge Analytica, telling Damian Collins’ DCMS Select Committee in March: “To be clear, Cambridge Analytica was set up in large part because of the research I was doing at SCL Group [Cambridge Analytica’s parent company].”

However, Cambridge Analytica was not the only company which received the illicit Facebook data set that resulted from Wylie’s work with Dr Kogan. As has been reported in North American press (and confirmed by Mark Zuckerberg to the US Congress) but largely ignored in the UK, the harvested data was also acquired by one other company, Eunoia Technologies. Eunoia Technologies Inc. was a separate company registered in the US on 12th June 2014… by Chris Wylie.

Wylie’s background is in centre-left politics, he worked for many years with Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in Canada and also worked with the Liberal Democrats in the UK. Since becoming a whistleblower, he has described social data harvesting as “grossly unethical”…

However, that didn’t stop Eunoia unsuccessfully trying to flog its services to Donald Trump’s campaign director in early 2015, before Eunoia again attempted to sell their services to the Remain campaign in November 2015, as Private Eye reported in April this year. Finally, he had yet another pitch rebuffed in January 2016, this time with Vote Leave’s Dominic Cummings dismissing his offer of “psychographic microtargeting”. Evidently Cummings was not the only one who concluded they were “charlatans”…

Zuckerberg told the US Congress that Wylie had certified to Facebook that Eunoia deleted its data in August 2016, but added that Facebook had “no way to confirm” activities that had “taken place off Facebook and its systems”. Eunoia’s UK branch didn’t wind up as a company until 24 October 2017.

The ICO’s report itself is inconclusive about the fate of the Facebook data, confirming that their own investigations into it are still ongoing:

“Our concerns also extend to who else may have received the harvested data and what they then did with it; our enquiries are active and continuing in that regard…”

“We will be making sure any organisations, which may still have copies of the Facebook data and its derivatives demonstrate its deletion.”

Given his intimate involvement in the genesis of the scandal, it would be remarkable if Wylie and Eunoia were not key lines of inquiry for the ICO in this regard. Only two companies are known to have received the illicit data – Cambridge Analytica and Eunoia. The ICO obtained a search warrant and raided the offices of one. What has it done about the other?

Police Rubbish Remoaner Conspiracy

Remoaners have been working themselves up into a tizzy over the last few weeks over an Open Democracy report which claimed that the police weren’t investigating the Leave campaigns due to “political sensitivities”. Carole was all over it, David Lammy had a Twitter tantrum while 74 MPs, Peers and MEPs including Vince Cable, Chuka Umunna and Lammy signed Ben Bradshaw and Molly Scott Cato’s cranky letter to the Police. Damian Collins even had a stern-looking Observer photoshoot

The Met Police’s response has left the conspiracy brigade looking incredibly silly. Far from “stalling” the investigation, the police revealed that they had only received over 2,000 documents relating to the case from the Electoral Commission last month and were therefore still assessing the documents. No conspiracy, just another Electoral Commission cock-up…

They also issued a stern rebuke to Bradshaw and Scott Cato’s suggestion that they had “been approached by government representatives to suggest that you soft-pedal this investigation due to political sensitivities”, revealing that the only people who had been putting them under political pressure were them and their fellow Remoaners:

“The operational independence of the police is central to our policing system. There has been no contact from any government representative making enquiries into the status of the MPS enquiries. The only approach from any elected politician, political party, official or representative has been your correspondence, or similar correspondence from other seeking the MPS undertakes a wide ranging investigation into the EU referendum.”

The only ones trying to externally influence the police are the ones shouting loudest about “police independence”…

Collins’ Cyber-Crusade Stumbles

Poor old Damian Collins’ attempts to become the British Julian Assange have hit another stumbling block as the Government accepted just 3 out of his committee’s 42 recommendations on how to deal with the “democratic crisis” of “disinformation and ‘fake news'” on social media. Sadly for Collins, such innovative proposals as taxing social media companies to fund quangos or including “satire and parody” within the definition of ‘fake news’ won’t be becoming hitting the statute books any time soon. Nor would the Government be drawn into commenting on ongoing investigations into the EU referendum.

Collins was left complaining that the Government’s response was “disappointing and a missed opportunity.” A missed opportunity for Collins to secure more publicity for his vapid vendetta against Brexiteers…

Damian Collins Spoke at Extremist Linked Event

Tory MP and DCMS Committee Chair Damian Collins was photographed over the weekend speaking in front of a banner for the Islamist sympathising group CAGE at a left wing festival.

Other banners appearing on stage at the festival included those for MEND, an organisation that MPs such as Anna Soubry have publicly distanced themselves from over claims that it engages in “dismissing terrorism” and promoting hostility towards Jews. CAGE are famed for calling Jihadi John “a beautiful, gentle young man”. Counter-extremist foundation Quilliam says both of these groups “clearly fall within the government’s definition of extremism.” Over compensating for allegations of Tory Islamaphobia?

BBC and DCMS Committee Push Fake News About Vote Leave Facebook Adverts

Whoever wrote this news article for the BBC website about Vote Leave’s Facebook adverts is going to have some explaining to do to their editor. The article talks about how Vote Leave and BeLeave “micro-targeted” adverts during the referendum, “with 252 of them seen fewer than 1,000 times”. Just one problem: it’s total nonsense. The adverts were never requested by Vote Leave or BeLeave. They never ran. That is why they appear in the “0-999” impressions box in the DCMS select committee’s numbers. The true number is zero. A glaring factual error completely demolishing the BBC’s story that Vote Leave “micro-targeted” adverts to data sets of fewer than 1,000 people.

This fake news has come about because the DCMS select committee refused to publish evidence that would have clearly explained what happened. Aggregate IQ wrote to the committee with the explanation back in May. The committee refused to publish the letter, and now off the back of that the BBC has ended up publishing nonsense. Yet more evidence of Damian Collins’ Remoaner select committee, which is supposed to be impartial, losing touch with reality as they peddle their conspiracy theories about Vote Leave…

UPDATE: Carole is going on about there being no imprint – on the ads that didn’t run – “That look completely illegal”. There is no legal requirement for imprints on online adverts. This is not a “whole new massive can of worms”. It is Carole showing her complete lack of knowledge of the rules.

The reason online adverts don’t require an imprint is because generally they are too small and when viewers click they will in any event be taken to a site that generally says clearly who the advertiser is by advocating a vote for them.

UPDATE II: The BBC has issued a correction:

Cadwalladr and Collins to Share Platform at Byline Festival

Brexit probe grandstander Damian Collins appears to have gone off the deep end. The DCMS select committee chair is due to appear alongside Carole Cadwalladr next month at the crackers Byline festival in Sussex. The panel is entitled ‘Is Silicon Valley a Danger to Democracy?’. Readers will remember Byline as the conspiracy theory website founded by the tin foil hatted Peter Jukes.

You have to wonder what a select committee chairman is doing hanging around with cranks like Byline. Collins has already lowered the standing of select committees with his disastrous performances so far – even Remainers were protesting at his incompetence after he was humiliated by Arron Banks. Sad.

Now Incompetent Collins Committee Publishes Banks’ Passport Number… And Leaves Unredacted PDF Online

Another great success for Damian Collins: his DCMS committee has published Arron Banks’ passport number and ID details in breach of data protection legislation. The personal information was released in a volume of evidence uploaded to parliament’s website, for all to see. Under data protection rules it should have been redacted…

Collins says the error was amended – but as off midday Monday the original link is still live and Banks’s personal data is still being widely shared on social media. The Information Commissioner’s Office is aware of the breach. After last week’s embarrassing charade, hardly a display of competence from Collins’ committee…

Collins Humiliated as Banks Walks Out For Lunch

After running rings around Damian Collins and his dire DCMS committee all morning, Arron Banks then left them completely humiliated by standing up, telling them he had a lunch to go to and walking out. Nothing the impotent Collins could do. Watch to the end to see his face – a picture of total defeat. That’s how you take grandstanding select committee chairmen down a peg or two…

UPDATE: Guido hears their lunch date was with DUP MPs Ian Paisley and Sammy Wilson.

Banks Running Rings Round Collins’ DCMS Committee

Arron Banks is enjoying himself a lot more than the MPs on the DCMS committee this morning. At one point he asked them: “Are you all Remainers? Yep? Hands up?”. And then he burned Paul Farrelly:

“What is this? Are you the MP who got drunk in the House of Commons and harassed a woman at a karaoke evening?”

Those watching are not impressed with the performance of the committee:

Don’t think this is playing out quite how Damian Collins wanted…

Collins Declines to Recuse Himself Over Russian Hospitality

Andy Wigmore mentions Guido’s story on Damian Collins accepting hospitality from Putin-linked Roman Abramovich at Chelsea FC. He asked the DCMS Committee Chair:

“Perhaps you might want to recuse yourself?”

Collins laughed:

“All I can say is… I didn’t meet the owner, I wasn’t offered Stalin’s vodka, I’m not as good at pushing their buttons as you are… I declared in the Register of Members’ Interests, there were no inducements, offers… Chelsea won 2-1”

Awkward…

Damian Collins Accepts Donation From Russian Billionaire Friend of Putin

Grandstanding select committee chairman Damian Collins has spent the last year chasing headlines about Russian interference in British politics. So it’s a bit rich of him to be taking donations from a Russian billionaire who is a close ally of Vladimir Putin…

The latest Register of Members’ Interests reveals that Collins accepted two tickets worth £1,000 to a football match at Stamford Bridge paid for by Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea FC. Abramovich has since had his visa renewal application delayed by the UK government, reportedly due to his close links to Putin. The oligarch was described by the Guardian last month as a “big Kremlin player”. Perhaps Collins should write himself one of his famous letters…

Damian Collins Wants to Know if Arron Banks Took Moscow Gold

Damian Collins wants to know if Arron Banks took Moscow gold to fund the Leave.EU campaign. Arron wanted to appear in front of the DCMS Select Committee, then he said he wouldn’t go, now he says he’ll see them next week. Collins versus Banks should be fun…

Cummings Threatens Commons Poster Protest

John Bercow has entertained the ridiculous charade of grandstanding Remoaner Damian Collins attempting to compel Vote Leave boss Dominic Cummings to come to his committee, allowing a debate on the great pressing issue of our nation tomorrow. Guido is reliably informed that Cummings is threatening to mount some form of protest from the public gallery. One suggestion being  considered, inspired by the epic CBI ‘voice of Brussels’ stunt during the referendum, is that Cummings could unveil a banner during the debate which says “Where the f**k is our £350 million a week for the NHS?” Wouldn’t be the first time he’s hijacked the Six O’Clock News with Vote Leave’s core message…

Cummings Calls Collins’ Bluff

As grandstanding Remoaner and DCMS select committee chair Damian Collins fires off another grandiose letter to Dom Cummings threatening to send the men in tights round, the Vote Leave chief responds:

If you had wanted my evidence you would have cooperated over dates. You actually wanted to issue threats, watch me give in, then get higher audiences for your grandstanding. I’m calling your bluff. Your threats are as empty as those from May/Hammond/DD to the EU. Say what you like, I will not come to your committee regardless of how many letters you send or whether you send characters in fancy dress to hand me papers.

As Guido has written previously, the House’s power to punish non-MPs for contempt is untested in the modern age, it would probably fall foul of human rights legislation. In theory Cummings could be summonsed to the bar of the House to be reprimanded or imprisoned. The House of Commons last used its power to fine in 1666…

Cummings also has a warning for the Brexit-hating DCMS committee and other ultra-Remainer MPs:

I’m told many of your committee support the Adonis/Mandelson/Campbell/Grieve/Goldman Sachs/FT/CBI campaign for a rematch against the country. Do you know what Vote Leave 2 would feel like for the MPs who vote for that (and donors who fund it)? It would feel like having Lawrence Taylor chasing you and smashing you into the ground over and over and over again. Vote Leave 2 would not involve me — nobody will make that mistake again — but I know what it would feel like for every MP who votes for a rematch against the public. 

One of the mistakes Brexiters made was letting Vote Leave stop campaigning…

Rum Collins: DCMS Committee Chair Enjoys Cocktails and Basketball on US Jolly

After a hard week probing fake news discovering there Russian intervention in the EU referendum was negligible, members of the DCMS committee are taking a well-earned break on their stateside knees-up. Chair Damian Collins shared a snap of the basketball arena at Madison Square Garden on Instagram. This morning Politico reported committee members were served cava, cocktails, smoked salmon, duck and mini-burgers at a the city’s flashy Newseum last night. Next time you’re blowing tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on a vanity jolly halfway around the world, maybe don’t share the pics on Insta…

Damian Collins Rejected Tech Firms’ Offer to Save Taxpayers £30,000

Yesterday Guido told you how Damian Collins was spending an estimated £30,000 of taxpayer cash flying his Culture, Media and Sport select committee members on a jolly to New York and Washington to probe “fake news”. It seemed a total extravagance from one of the more grandstanding select committee chairmen.[…] Read the rest

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