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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: 263023

Reported Deaths: 5752
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17675191
Hinds16813331
Harrison14224204
Rankin11167219
Jackson10839190
Lee9050144
Madison8568168
Jones6668114
Forrest6177124
Lauderdale6097192
Lowndes5518120
Lafayette516298
Lamar503965
Washington4923125
Bolivar4104109
Oktibbeha405982
Panola384881
Pontotoc376258
Warren3674103
Monroe3671108
Union355663
Marshall355270
Neshoba3485154
Pearl River3468105
Leflore3111109
Lincoln305688
Hancock291862
Sunflower291475
Tate279662
Alcorn272354
Pike268981
Itawamba268063
Scott259648
Yazoo255256
Prentiss252553
Tippah249250
Copiah249049
Coahoma248054
Simpson242171
Leake237367
Grenada223272
Marion222073
Covington219973
Adams213671
Wayne212634
Winston207371
George204339
Newton199046
Attala196963
Tishomingo194161
Chickasaw189044
Jasper179538
Holmes171768
Clay165837
Tallahatchie156235
Stone151425
Clarke147262
Calhoun140822
Smith129226
Yalobusha122034
Walthall114337
Greene113529
Noxubee112926
Montgomery111636
Carroll106622
Lawrence106517
Perry104531
Amite101426
Webster96124
Tunica88821
Claiborne88325
Jefferson Davis88329
Benton85623
Humphreys84624
Kemper80520
Quitman7089
Franklin69917
Choctaw63213
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45117
Issaquena1606
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 439442

Reported Deaths: 6657
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson644371007
Mobile31435569
Madison28158217
Tuscaloosa21492275
Montgomery19873332
Shelby19248132
Baldwin17128189
Lee13137107
Morgan12594142
Etowah12070181
Calhoun11496206
Marshall10420123
Houston8988164
Limestone832081
Cullman8257124
Elmore8183110
DeKalb7871107
Lauderdale7847107
St. Clair7808130
Talladega6445112
Walker6028183
Jackson599145
Colbert548694
Blount546286
Autauga535862
Coffee460764
Dale409685
Franklin374150
Russell354215
Chilton344373
Covington338580
Escambia334544
Tallapoosa3143109
Dallas312996
Chambers303470
Clarke298036
Pike262431
Lawrence253355
Marion253161
Winston233342
Bibb222348
Geneva210247
Marengo208231
Pickens199531
Hale184944
Barbour180538
Fayette177829
Butler173160
Cherokee165131
Henry159525
Monroe152021
Randolph145536
Washington141727
Clay129746
Crenshaw123745
Macon121937
Cleburne121525
Lamar119922
Lowndes114836
Wilcox107922
Bullock103328
Perry99918
Conecuh97822
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63418
Choctaw51924
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