CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA has spawned a new spin-off called 'Auspex International' that wants to slurp-up users' Google search histories.
Cambridge Analytica is effectively still operating under a new name (Emerdata), but several spin-out companies have emerged using the same techniques - and even employees.
The newest of these is known as Auspex International, which the Financial Times reports was launched on the 11 July: one day after the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) began criminal proceedings against Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL Elections.
Auspex, based in London, is being led by Mark Turnbull, who was formerly in charge of Cambridge Analytica's political team outside the US and UK. Before joining Cambridge Analytica, Turnbull worked at Bell Pottinger: the PR firm accused of, among other things, removing negative information from Wikipedia entries and exploiting racial tension in South Africa.
Seven other former Cambridge Analytica employees from Turnbull's team have joined Auspex, which the FT notes has already secured a contract for ‘political work' in an unnamed African state.
The company's sole investor is Ahmad Al-Khatib, a former director at Emerdata. He says that Auspex will bid on political and social work in counter-terrorism messaging. It will use information from a variety of sources, and look for ways to acquire internet histories from companies like Google.
Al-Khatib says that search history is more valuable than data acquired from Facebook, because it shows "real hints and triggers [to a person's motivations]."
Although the new firm doesn't own any of Cambridge Analytica's IP, its backers ‘believe clients will pay to deploy its methods and expertise, despite its role in the Facebook scandal'. µ
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