Indian parties hired CA since 2003, to study voters, counter jihadism: whistleblower


Mumbai: Former Cambridge Analytica (CA) employee and whistleblower Christopher Wylie – who exposed Facebook’s data breach — tweeted on Wednesday on the rather long association Indian politics had had with the company to get voter information and strategise poll campaigns around it.

Wylie tweeted: “I have been getting a lot of requests from Indian journalists, so here are some of Strategic Communication Laboratory’s (SCL) past projects in India. To the most frequently asked question – yes SCL/CA works in India and has offices there. This is what modern colonialism looks like.”

 

Wylie attached a document to his tweet which states the firm was engaged in the 2003 Rajasthan elections by a “major state party… to carry out two pieces of work, one internal and aimed at assessing the party’s organisational strength, the other external and looking at the nature of the voting population, and, more particularly the attitudes and behaviours of politically-active individuals within the state”.

In the 2003 Madhya Pradesh elections, “SCL India carried out a psephological study and opinion polling for a national party to identify swing voters. This was followed with a more in-depth analysis of behavioural dynamics at work in key seats which in turn informed the party’s efforts to ensure a local structure and communication strategy that matched the caste make-up and attitudinal positions of the pre-identified ‘swing population’.”

In 2007, SCL worked in Kerala, West Bengal, Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh, on a “communication campaign to support a trans-national programme for countering the Non-Desired Behaviour of recruitment into, and support of, violent Jihadism. The project focused on ancillary populations as opposed to perpetrators of violent Jihadism themselves and required in-depth motivational understanding of the populations of six states”.

In 2007, the firm worked in Uttar Pradesh and carried out a full political survey “on behalf of a major party”.

In the 2010 Bihar state election, the firm was asked to provide electoral research and strategy for the Janata Dal (United). 

Wylie also says in 2012, “SCL India carried out a caste census in Uttar Pradesh on behalf of a national party. The research included analysis of caste structure and dynamics within the state leading to conclusions regarding the identification of the party’s core voters as well as likely swing voters.”

Also Read: Believe Congress was firm’s client, says Cambridge Analytica whistleblower

Wylie’s tweeted document also says in 2011 Uttar Pradesh, SCL India undertook a statewide (200mn people) research campaign to identify voter caste by household. This booth level polling data formed the basis of further research into swing vopter motivation and supporter mobilisation strategies, which were presented to individual candidates and tailored to their constituencies.

In the 2009 general elections, SCL India managed the campaigns of a number of Lok Sabha candidates. The research and campaign teams employed SCL India’s proprietary data collection methodologies to form strategies that gave the clients successful election campaigns.

He tweeted SCL and CA have 10 offices in India. The firm is headquartered in Indirapuram, Ghaziabad and has offices in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Cuttack, Ghaziabad, Guwahati, Hyderabad, Indore, Kolktata, Patna and Pune.

Wylie has previously disclosed how users’ data from Facebook was used by Cambridge Analytica to help elect US President Donald Trump.

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