Cambridge Analytica Planned To Release Own Cryptocurrency

News | April 18, 2018 By:

Political data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica was planning to develop its own cryptocurrency through an initial coin offering (ICO) prior to becoming involved in a scandal regarding the misuse of data from Facebook.

Last month, it was reported that Cambridge Analytica, which did work for US President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign, gained access to the personal data of more than 87 million Facebook users. Facebook did not inform affected users, despite being fully aware of the issue since 2015.

According to Reuters, citing sources familiar with the matter, Cambridge Analytica, before it became embroiled in the Facebook privacy scandal, had approached a firm that advises companies on how to structure an ICO. While it is unknown if the company is still pursuing plans to develop its own cryptocurrency, a spokesman said that the company was looking at using blockchain technology.

“Prior to the Facebook controversy, we were developing a suite of technologies to help individuals reclaim their personal data from corporate entities and to have full transparency and control over how their personal data are used,” the spokesman said in an email to Reuters. “We were exploring multiple options for people to manage and monetize their personal data, including blockchain technology. The firm was looking to raise as much as $30 million.”

Brittany Kaiser, who guided Cambridge Analytica’s work with ICOs, has been critical of the company since leaving it in February. Kaiser said as far as she knows, the coin offering has not moved forward.

Blockchain technology consultant Jill Carlson, who attended meetings where Cambridge Analytica pitched its services to crypto firms, said the company’s pitch was contrary to the hallmark ideas of openness and transparency that drew her to digital currency projects like bitcoin.

“The way that Cambridge Analytica was talking about it, they were viewing it as a means of being able to basically inflict government control and private corporate control over individuals, which just takes the whole initial premise of this technology and turns it on its head in this very dystopian way,” Carlson said.

According to documents and emails obtained by The ‎New York Times, Cambridge Analytica was one of the sponsors of the casino cryptocurrency Dragon Coin and its ICO. Dragon Coin was designed to make it easier for people to get their money to casinos in Macau.

The data analytics firm didn’t have a large public role in promoting Dragon Coin. But behind the scenes, the company emailed potential partners and investors and arranged for some of them to take all-expenses-paid trips to a Dragon Coin event in Macau last year.

The alleged involvement with Dragon Coin, also associates Cambridge Analytica with Wan Kuok-koi, the leader of the famous 14K gang in Macau, who was released from prison in 2012 after serving a 14-year term. Documents have listed Wan as a supporter of the Dragon Coin, although Dragon Coin founder ‎Chris Ahmad denied his participation in financing the token sale in any way.‎ Dragon Coin claimed it raised more than $300 million from investors earlier this year.