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Sunday 21 July 2019
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AG to probe PP link to data mining firm

Faris Al-Rawi
Faris Al-Rawi


ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi has launched an investigation into whether the People’s Partnership administration hired a company which used this country as a test site for illegal data mining of citizens.

He made the announcement during a statement in Parliament yesterday.

He reported there had been investigations by US and UK authorities on alleged illegal interference of the rights of millions of citizens stemming from the activities of several companies including Cambridge Analytica, AggregateIQ (AIQ), the Strategic Communication Laboratories Group (SCL) and their affiliate companies which allegedly began out of illegal data and communication mining activities in TT in 2013.

Al-Rawi said whistleblower testimony from Cambridge Analytica’s former research director Christopher Wylie pinpointed TT as the site of a data- and communication-mining test project allegedly conducted in 2013 under the Kamla Persad-Bissessar government.

“According to Wylie the Trinidad and Tobago 2013 project formed the basis for the company’s subsequent activities in the United Kingdom and in the United States in particular. Wylie is quoted as saying, ‘It’s something I regret. People should know what this company does, what this is. Throughout history you have examples of grossly unethical experiments. You are playing with the psychology of an entire country without their consent or awareness, you are playing with an entire nation in the context of the democratic process.”

He said that in Wylie’s whistleblowing interviews to the media and in his live testimony to the Committee of the House of Commons on Tuesday he revealed the data mining was done through the National Security Ministry.

Al-Rawi reported there was evidence before the UK House of Commons Committee on March 27 which detailed the project carried out by the AIQ as the affiliate company of Cambridge Analytica and contractual documentation and e-mails from AIQ’s project in TT with the then Kamla Persad-Bissessar government were referenced and provided to the committee.

He also reported from a Bloomberg Online News article that Cambridge Analytica helped a candidate in Trinidad by emblazoning graffiti slogans around the island that ostensibly was posted by young Trinidadians and the work was done for the United National Congress (UNC).

Al -Rawi said it was incumbent upon him as AG to audit all government ministries, state enterprises and the National Security Council under the PP to ascertain whether any contracts were established and any payments made to Cambridge Analytica or its affiliates. He said he would be reaching out to US and UK authorities carrying out parallel investigations to source evidence.

During a UNC public meeting in Las Lomas on Monday night Persad-Bissessar denied any involvement with Cambridge Analytica and yesterday in a release she again categorically denied this. She described it as a malicious, deliberate falsehood meant to distract and the Opposition intended to file a motion of breach of privilege by the Attorney General.

“This is like E-mailgate two – under Parliament privilege.”

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