Prince George-Peace River-Northern Rockies MP Bob Zimmer and Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, questioned Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica employee who blew the whistle on the company’s alleged improper gathering of millions of Facebook users’ personal data, after Mr. Wylie gave sworn testimony to the committee today.
Along with answering questions surrounding AggregateIQ executives, Mr. Wylie testified regarding how the improper use of personal data can threaten democracy.
“I am aware of projects where clients from one country would be interested in … the electoral results in another,” said Wylie when asked about foreign interests using personal data for political purposes. “My understanding is that SCL did participate where some of the funders would not be nationals or residents of the country that they were operating in.”
When asked about the use of personal data for voter suppression, Wylie responded: “What I’m talking about is targeting particular groups of people with messages that will disengage them or frustrate them or confuse them which ultimately will in some cases inhibit or demotivate them enough not to participate in an election.”
Wylie testified today as part of the committee’s study of the Breach of Personal Information Involving Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.
“My concern is how our personal data can be used to manipulate the democratic process in Canada and abroad,” said Zimmer following the meeting. “We accept that companies will use personal information to advertise to us. It is a completely different and more troubling concern that our information is being used to manipulate us and our democracy and we need to examine how we can prevent it from happening in Canada.”
Mr. Zimmer: “Have you watched the testimony of Mr. Zack Massingham and Mr. Jeff Silvester as they appeared before our committee in Canada?”
Mr. Wylie: “I have watched parts of it. I haven’t seen the entire thing.”
Mr. Zimmer: “Is it your opinion that they were untruthful to our committee in watching that testimony?”
Mr. Wylie: “My impression was that there were answers that felt obfuscated or, as has been discussed now, so fantastical that it is hard to believe.”