Who’s Backing Who: Minimal Progress

Guido’s list is holding steady this morning with just one new high profile backer has announced this morning, DCMS Committee Chair Damian Collins has declared for Boris, becoming the second Select Committee chair to join his column in two days, having yesterday secured the backing of Defence Committee Chair Julian Lewis. 55% of the Parliamentary Party has now declared. Guido hears there are unlikely to be many more announcements until the Prime Minister formally steps down as Party Leader tomorrow. Some are holding back out of respect…

View the full list here: order-order.com/backers

Get in touch with any updates…

mdi-timer 6th June 2019 @ 9:30 am 6th Jun 2019 @ 9:30 am mdi-comment Comments
Carole’s Wylie Whitewash

Carole Cadwalladr has celebrated the one-year anniversary of her big Observer exposés with a brand new puff piece for each of the Brexit ‘whistleblowers’, complete with a fresh set of serious-looking photoshoots. Chris Wylie has gone for cactus green in his “clean, white, Scandinavian lines” new H&M office this time…

Carole does include a number of entertaining new nuggets about the talented Mr Wylie, including that he carries around $1,000 in cash when visiting New York, believes he has been poisoned, and “insisted on a chauffeur back and forth to his flat in London” from the tinfoil-hat gathering last Summer at the Byline Festival in Sussex. Staying in Damian Collins’ yurt apparently didn’t appeal to him…

Yet despite almost 4,000 words of gushing prose, in which she complains that “both Wylie and I have been constant targets of the right-wing blogsite Guido Fawkes, attack pieces by BuzzFeed, abusive tweets from the BBC’s Andrew Neil”, Carole curiously doesn’t find the time to mention the large lumbering elephant in the room, Wylie’s own company which he set up as a direct competitor to Cambridge Analytica. Offering all the same dubious data-targeting services…

Regular readers will recall he was one of the key people in designing Cambridge Analytica’s illicit voter-targeting techniques, Wylie then jumped ship to start his own company Eunoia Technologies in direct competition with them. Eunoia unsuccessfully touted its services to everyone from Donald Trump to Britain Stronger in Europe and Dominic Cummings, before finally securing a C$100,000 payday from Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party. Despite telling Damian Collins he hadn’t had any clients…

Naturally Cambridge Analytica weren’t best pleased about a former employee making off with their intellectual property and trying to poach a load of their existing clients, and took legal action against him. Wylie lost big time and was forced to provide “very wide ranging written undertakings to SCL [CA’s parent company]… that, in summary, he would not use SCL’s intellectual property and other commercial or confidential material (obtained whilst working with SCL) in the course of his own business enterprise.” Eunoia flopped and Wylie subsequently wound it up. Which surely played no part in Wylie’s decision to attack Cambridge Analytica a couple of years later…

Despite Carole’s relationship with Wylie and the fact that she has evidently been following Guido’s investigation in some detail, she has still failed to respond to Guido’s questions about what she knew or report on any investigations of her own into Wylie’s highly dubious Eunoia dealings, which seems a remarkable oversight for an investigative journalist. Carole is still bravely fighting “the fight to hold the culprits to account”, surely she isn’t being selective about which culprits she is trying to hold to account…

mdi-timer 19th March 2019 @ 5:14 pm 19th Mar 2019 @ 5:14 pm mdi-comment Comments
Hardline Remainers Come Out Against May’s New Deal

While Brexiteers are keeping their own counsel until the Attorney General and the Star Council of Brexit lawyers come back with their formal legal opinions on May’s latest offering, Remainers have wasted no time in coming out to batter her new deal. Despite Brexiteers being the ones always branded headbangers, as usual it’s the Remainers who kicking up a fuss while Brexiteers are open to compromise…

Dominic Grieve has said this morning that it “doesn’t make any significant difference”, digging in on his fundamental position that he won’t back any deal unless May commits to holding a second referendum on it. Sam Gyimah dismissively says “We’re being played!” while comparing Brexit to Iraq. The mercurial Damian Collins also declared that he wouldn’t be budging last night…

There are still niggling concerns over what May has secured. Most pro-Brexit lawyers Guido has spoken to so far believe that the UK’s unilateral declaration will carry weight in future legal disputes if the EU does not raise any formal objections to its inclusion alongside the rest of the Treaty, there are still doubts about what position it leaves the UK in overall. Varadkar once again displayed his ham-fisted lack of political judgement with a bullish tone at his press conference this morning…

May said last night that the changes guaranteed that the backstop would not become the “template” for the future relationship, as EU negotiators boasted after the deal was first agreed. Ultimately MPs will be making a political judgement as much as anything today. May’s changes are legally binding, but are they enough? Does the risk of an even softer Brexit or no Brexit at all justify voting for the deal as the least worst option still available? Nick Boles’ ego is now so large that he is already threatening Brexiteers to “take the win” or else “we will do whatever it takes to frustrate you.” Brexiteers are still reserving their judgement, Remainers have showed their cards and made clear their only interest now is sabotaging Brexit…

mdi-timer 12th March 2019 @ 9:03 am 12th Mar 2019 @ 9:03 am mdi-comment Comments
Damian Collins Used Remain Campaigners to ‘Analyse’ Pro-Brexit Outlets

The DCMS Select Committee used pro-Remain campaign agency to ‘analyse’ activities of pro-Brexit media outlets under the pretence of uncovering the spread of disinformation online. The notoriously Remain-heavy committee employed the services of ’89up’ to carry out analysis of Facebook data in its new report. The Committee claims 89up is a consultancy firm, but it is really a campaigning and communications company with close links to the Remain camp…

89up was the sole communications agency for pro-Remain campaign group Best for Britain. They have also received considerable sponsorship from the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which has made multiple political donations to secure a second referendum. Is it any wonder then that all pro-Brexit Facebook pages and companies examined by 89up are described as ‘populist’, ‘right-wing’, ‘conspirational’ and ‘anti-establishment’..?

Damian Collins’ committee appointed former Labour Councillor and 89up CEO Mike Harris to carry out the analysis. Harris has previously called the backer of Best for Britain, George Soros “the largest single donor in human history for the defence and strengthening of democracy.” Soros also funds the campaign to overturn the biggest vote in UK history, and Best for Britain has itself received multiple fines from the Electoral Commission.

Relying so heavily on such a clearly conflicted firm to push disastrous reforms for tech freedom undermines the entire legitimacy of Collins’ narcissistic ‘Fake News’ enquiry.

mdi-timer 18th February 2019 @ 4:41 pm 18th Feb 2019 @ 4:41 pm mdi-comment Comments
Damian Collins Calls For End to Internet Freedom

Damian Collins’ committee has this morning published its report into “Disinformation and ‘fake news’” and off the bat it is a full-on onslaught of new heavy-handed regulations that could herald the end of a free and open internet.

The report recommends that tech companies cease to be seen as platforms, and shift to being seen much more as publishers, establishing a new Government written “Code of Ethics” overseen by yet another new quango given “statutory powers to monitor relevant tech companies”:

“tech companies assume legal liability for content identified as harmful after it has been posted by users”

Calling to end platform neutral status for internet companies would end social media as we know it. If Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, or any other user-centred host of content became classified as publishers, why would any company allow anything to be posted without central approval first? Doing anything else would leave that company legally liable for whatever its users posted on the site…

Publisher status would necessitate pre-approval by legal teams for everything that was posted, so that companies would avoid getting sued. A precautionary principle would have to be adopted – we would end up with a small group of out-of-touch politicians and technocrats deciding what is acceptable to say on the internet. In reality this would lead to a mass exodus of global companies from the UK…

The UK is home to more tech companies than anywhere else in Europe. There is a tech boom of new startups and more ‘tech unicorn’ billion dollar valued companies than anywhere else in Europe. Collins’ hugely misguided plans would destroy all of that if they were ever implemented…

mdi-timer 18th February 2019 @ 9:48 am 18th Feb 2019 @ 9:48 am mdi-comment Comments
Cambridge Analytica ‘Whistleblower’ Wylie Gets ‘Ethical’ New Data-Targeting Job

There was some surprising news from the world of fashion last week, with H&M announcing that they would be hiring Cambridge Analytica ‘whistleblower’ Chris Wylie to use data analytics and “sustainable and ethical” artificial intelligence to help them target potential customers. Guido thought he would do H&M the favour of reminding them about some of Wylie’s previous corporate engagements, to let them decide for themselves just how “ethical” they were…

Guido readers will be remember how Chris Wylie founded his own Cambridge Analytica spin-off, Eunoia Technologies, after acrimoniously parting ways with them. Eunoia then made failed pitches offering the same sort of illicit data targeting, to everyone from Britain Stronger in Europe to Donald Trump, until he finally found a client in Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party in Canada, trousering a handsome C$100,000. Despite telling Damian Collins he had no clients…

The gaping hole in the narrative of Wylie’s Damascene conversion from “evil” data genius to righteous moral hero is the four-year gap between Wylie leaving Cambridge Analytica and finally deciding to blow the whistle on them, in which time he was happily carrying on with the same activities himself. Surely it had nothing to do with saving his own skin with a highly aggressive journalist hunting him down?

Even Damian Collins found enough time between grandstanding and amplifying Carole’s columns to put Wylie on the spot over this when he questioned him last year. If Wylie felt so strongly about the wrongdoing, why did he wait so long to expose it?

Wylie’s answers to Collins were a veritable cocktail of lies and misinformation:

  • Wylie told Collins that he hadn’t blown the whistle sooner because he “didn’t appreciate the future impact” of his work at the time as well as claiming that he did “not think military-style information operations is conducive for any democratic process”.
  • This is a bare-faced lie: in 2013 Wylie explicitly said his goal was to create the “NSA’s wet dream” and openly admitted he wanted to profit out of using the data for “evil” as “evil pays more”:

Our goal is first to make it an extremely profitable company. Then we will cleanse our souls with other projects, like using the data for good rather than evil. But evil pays more.”

  • Wylie even told Collins that Donald Trump’s election had made it “click in [his] head” about the wider impact of what he was doing. Another shameless lie given his own company’s attempts to sell voter-targeting services to Trump’s campaign…

Wylie also tried to use the excuse that Cambridge Analytica had come after him with a “very aggressive team of lawyers” and forced him to sign an undertaking of confidentiality. This is a highly distorted account of what actually happened:

  • According to the independent report into Cambridge Analytica by Julian Malins QC, CA’s lawyers did write to Wylie and his company, Eunoia, “regarding suspected breaches of covenants on intellectual property, client solicitation, staff solicitation and non-competition”.
  • CA found out after one of their existing US political clients tipped them off that they had received a proposal from Eunoia “which purported to deliver exactly the same services as SCL [CA’s parent company]”.

So CA did come after Wylie with lawyers after he left – not to try to hush him up but because he had started his own company in direct competition with them. And was attempting to poach their existing clients using their own intellectual property…

  • Wylie was forced to settle the prospective action in 2015 “by providing very wide ranging written undertakings to SCL… that, in summary, he would not use SCL’s intellectual property and other commercial or confidential material (obtained whilst working with SCL) in the course of his own business enterprise.”
  • As the Malins Report notes, his own business flopped after this: “Wylie was not then and has not been subsequently successful in forming and running a business competing with SCL/CA. Eunoia fell dormant and was subsequently struck off the company register.” Good of H&M to give him another go…

Wylie’s story suddenly starts to look less like a tale of redemption and more like a story of revenge. Carole’s appearance gave him the perfect opportunity to stick the knife into his former employers who had forced him out of business. While simultaneously covering up his own fundamental role in the scandal:

  • Right at the outset, Wylie introduced Cambridge Analytica to Dr Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who developed the original Facebook data-harvesting app.
  • He then worked directly with Kogan to turn it into the app at the heart of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
  • Wylie left Cambridge Analytica, took the illegally-obtained data with him, and launched his own company trying to steal their clients.
  • He unsuccessfully tried to pitch the same illicit voter-targeting services to a range of clients including Trump, Vote Leave and Britain Stronger in Europe.
  • His company flopped after Cambridge Analytica forced him to stop using the intellectual property he stole from them.
  • Years later he finally turned whistleblower after being relentlessly pursued by Carole Cadwalladr for months.
  • Now he goes round the world doing media interviews and giving speeches about how he exposed the wrongdoing – which would probably never have happened in the first place without his involvement – while getting the chance to wipe his slate clean with a plushy job in industry.

And he’s meant to be the good guy in all of this?

mdi-timer 4th February 2019 @ 4:42 pm 4th Feb 2019 @ 4:42 pm mdi-comment Comments
Previous Page Next Page