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Steve Bannon sought to use data mined by Cambridge Analytica for ‘culture war,’ whistleblower says

Russian officials may have the personal data of millions of Facebook users that was collected by Cambridge Analytica without consumers’ permission, while former White House adviser Steve Bannon sought to use the information to start a “culture war,” whistleblower Christopher Wylie told a Senate panel Wednesday.

Wylie, who flew here from London to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Bannon — a former Cambridge Analytica vice president — told senators that Bannon “sees cultural warfare as the means to create enduring change in American politics” and sought to “build an arsenal of informational weapons he could deploy on the American population.” “Mr. Bannon wanted to use the same kinds of information operations tactics used by the military for his political aims in the United States and elsewhere,” Wylie testified.

Wylie was asked by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., whether it’s possible that the Facebook data “ended up in Russia.” “I can’t say definitively, one way or the other, if these data sets did end up in Russia, but what I can say is that it would have been very easy to facilitate that,” said Wylie, who worked as research director for Cambridge Analytica from mid-2013 to late 2014 before leaving the company and helping expose the Facebook privacy breach.Wylie said Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University psychology professor who developed an application that harvested the Facebook data and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, was frequently in Moscow and St. Petersburg working on projects funded by the Russian government.Wylie said Russian officials could easily have stolen the data from Kogan’s laptop with a simple keylogger, which is software that can be installed remotely to track which keys are struck on a computer keyboard.

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