British firm denies moving Facebook data to Mississippi

A case involving the British data firm Cambridge Analytica is before a county judge in the U.S. state of Mississippi, where representatives of a British insurance company and the University of Mississippi have testified under oath that no private data of British citizens was ever transferred to the American university.

Posted: Jun 7, 2018 9:30 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A case involving the British data firm Cambridge Analytica is before a county judge in the U.S. state of Mississippi, where representatives of a British insurance company and the University of Mississippi have testified under oath that no private data of British citizens was ever transferred to the American university.

Britain's Fair Vote Project continues to seek proof that private data ended up in Mississippi, despite their repeated denials. The hearing continues Wednesday.

Eldon Insurance Services Ltd. and its lawyers argue the lawsuit's aim is to make the insurance seller appear guilty even though there's no evidence of wrongdoing. They want Hinds County Chancery Judge Denise Owens to dismiss the suit as having no place in the Mississippi courts.

"This is a lawsuit between British people and it's about the alleged use of British people's personal data," lawyer Sterling Kidd argued Tuesday in Jackson. "This court does not have personal jurisdiction."

The Mississippi action stems from April testimony before the British Parliament by Brittany Kaiser, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica. Kaiser told Parliament she believes that leaders of the 2016 Brexit campaign to have the United Kingdom leave the European Union misused private data from Eldon Insurance and the U.K. Independence Party. She said Eldon owner Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore told multiple people they were going to use her proposals and create their own "their own Cambridge Analytica" at the University of Mississippi.

Cambridge Analytica said it did no paid or unpaid work on the Brexit campaign. It also denies using Facebook data to support Donald Trump's presidential campaign.

Both Banks and Wigmore, until recently an Eldon director, were prominent proponents of the successful 2016 Brexit referendum on Britain leaving the European Union. John Banks, whom Kidd identified as Arron Banks' brother and Eldon's general counsel, attended Tuesday and consulted with Kidd during the hearing.

The entity in question is an Eldon subsidiary, Big Data Dolphins Ltd., which the company says aims to use data for the legitimate purpose of improving insurance sales.

Dorsey Carson, arguing on behalf of Fair Vote Project and its leader Kyle Taylor, said plenty of evidence supports the lawsuit being heard in Mississippi, including a lease that Eldon signed with the university in February. The organization says any transfer of data to the United States would have broken British law, and wants to prove that Cambridge Analytica, Banks and Wigmore acted illegally to manipulate the outcome of the Brexit referendum.

"The question has to be asked: Why do they not want a court order prohibiting them from destroying evidence using personal data that neither Mr. Kyle Taylor or anyone else gave them permission to use?" Carson told the judge.

It was Mississippi's Republican Gov. Phil Bryant who ultimately connected Eldon with the university after cultivating relationships with Banks, pro-Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage and others.

The lease, filed publicly for the first time Tuesday, shows the state economic development agency controlled by Bryant agreed to give Eldon and the university $100,000 to help complete office space for Big Data Dolphins.

Josh Gladden, the university's vice chancellor for research, testified that the office space has never been finished or occupied, and that Big Data Dolphins has no access to university computer servers and has stored nothing at the university. He said university researchers never agreed what specific projects they would assist Eldon with, and testified that Eldon hasn't asked the university to destroy evidence.

"The result of this investigation is, to our satisfaction, that there's been no data transfer between any of the companies and the University of Mississippi," Gladden said.

Victoria Sena, who manages the Big Data Dolphins project, testified she never discussed server access.

"I haven't transferred data," Sena testified. "I don't have access to data. There is no way to access it. There is no one to transfer it to."

Sena also said Eldon had no access to any improper trove of Facebook data, instead using input only from its own Facebook page. She said Eldon never "scraped" Facebook profiles for data, saying that's illegal in the United Kingdom and would result in the company being banned from Facebook. She testified that Big Data Dolphins was incorporated after the Brexit vote and Trump's election. She said that while Banks may have been involved in the Brexit campaign, she denied that Eldon was involved.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540083

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798481529
Mobile41283809
Madison35157506
Tuscaloosa25925455
Shelby25302249
Montgomery24723593
Baldwin21411310
Lee15993172
Calhoun14574319
Morgan14425280
Etowah13925353
Marshall12280225
Houston10648282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10070151
St. Clair9948245
Cullman9768194
Lauderdale9460243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8341176
Walker7261278
Autauga7005108
Jackson6840112
Blount6773139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5581118
Dale4877113
Russell445738
Chilton4373113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394877
Chambers3596123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303098
Winston275873
Bibb264764
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219169
Fayette212862
Henry189943
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178141
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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