Date
17 October 2018
Alexander Nix (right), the ousted CEO of Cambridge Analytica, had spoken earlier about how blockchain can help people take ownership of their data and monetize it. Photo: Reuters
Alexander Nix (right), the ousted CEO of Cambridge Analytica, had spoken earlier about how blockchain can help people take ownership of their data and monetize it. Photo: Reuters

Cambridge Analytica planned to issue digital currency: report

Data analytics consultancy Cambridge Analytica had been planning to raise money through its own cryptocurrency before it became embroiled in the Facebook data scandal, according to Reuters.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the news agency reports that Cambridge Analytica had approached a firm that advises companies on how to structure an initial coin offering (ICO), as it sought to raise funds via issue of a new digital currency.

The London-based firm planned to raise as much as US$30 million, one of the sources told Reuters.

According to the plan, the money would be used to create a system to help people store and sell their online personal data to advertisers, Brittany Kaiser, a former employee of the firm, told The New York Times.

“Who knows more about the usage of personal data than Cambridge Analytica?” said Kaiser. “So why not build a platform that reconstructs the way that works?”

It is not known if the controversial firm is still pursuing such plans, given the storm surrounding its misuse of personal data harvested from Facebook.

A company spokesman did not comment on the coin offering, but wrote in an email that “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,” Reuters said.

“We were exploring multiple options for people to manage and monetize their personal data, including blockchain technology,” the spokesman added.

New York Times noted that in January, Alexander Nix, then CEO of Cambridge Analytica, spoke in a conference on how blockchain technology can address the issue of online personal data abuse.

“We’re going to see a new type of economy emerging where people can start to take ownership of their data and monetize their data. And that is only possible through the blockchain,” said Nix, according to a tweet from the event organizer.

Cambridge Analytica has been under intense scrutiny in recent weeks after news broke out in March that the firm had illicitly harvested a massive amount of personal data of millions of Facebook users.

Facebook said earlier this month that as many as 87 million of its users may have been affected by the data breach.

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