Cambridge Analytica whistleblower coming to Dublin to discuss the future of your data

19 Dec 2019

Brittany Kaiser. Image: CAA Speakers

Brittany Kaiser, one of the Cambridge Analytica whistleblowers featured in The Great Hack, will speak at Future Human 2020.

Editor’s note: Please note that Future Human 2020 has been rescheduled to take place on 29 and 30 October 2020. Speaker line-up subject to change. More details can be found here.

Future Human has announced Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Brittany Kaiser for its May 2020 line-up in Dublin.

Kaiser came to prominence when she featured in the Netflix documentary The Great Hack. The documentary, which follows Kaiser’s story in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, has this week been shortlisted for the 2020 Documentary Feature Oscar alongside contenders such as For Sama, Apollo 11 and Maiden.

Kaiser had built up a background in political campaigning in the US for a string of Democratic candidates when, in 2015, she joined SCL Group, the then-parent company of Cambridge Analytica. She worked her way up to the role of business development director but left the company in January 2018, just before The Observer published its groundbreaking reports with former Cambridge Analytica employee Christopher Wylie.

Reporting revealed that data from millions of Facebook accounts had been harvested and used for targeted political campaigning in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum in the UK, which has led to ongoing discussions about how digital platforms can be used and abused when it comes to pushing political agendas.

Kaiser later contributed to The Guardian’s Cambridge Analytica Files investigation, providing documents and information for a momentous series on Brexit, the Trump campaign, Facebook, and more. She and Wylie both appeared before a UK parliamentary investigation, providing testimony and documents from their time at the company.

‘Now there’s probably many different Cambridge Analyticas, not just in the United States but all over the world’

Kaiser says she decided to become a whistleblower first to expose the truth about Cambridge Analytica and its activities and, second, because she saw the system of data brokerage as flawed and in contravention of fundamental human rights. In a recent interview with France 24, she said: “I wish I would have known earlier and I wish I would have done something, but it’s never too late to do the right thing.”

Now an advocate for data privacy and digital rights, Kaiser has started an online campaign, #OwnYourData, appealing for transparency in the digital space. She also co-founded the non-profit Digital Asset Trade Association (DATA) to lobby for change and wrote a book about her experiences, Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower’s Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump and Facebook Broke Democracy.

Based on her recent activities, Kaiser wants to see bills passed protecting digital rights (including defining digital assets as property for each individual) and for companies with data-gathering platforms to update their terms and conditions to provide transparency, clear consent models and monetisation rights for users.

“Right now we are not any more protected than we were in 2016. In fact, I think people are probably more vulnerable this year for the 2020 elections,” Kaiser warned. “Now there’s probably many different Cambridge Analyticas, not just in the United States but all over the world. People understand more how to use advanced data science and microtargeting, and Mark Zuckerberg has decided that Facebook is not going to moderate political speech.”

‘I wish I would have known earlier and I wish I would have done something, but it’s never too late to do the right thing’

Future Human follows on from five years of success hosting Inspirefest, and event curator Ann O’Dea, Silicon Republic’s CEO, has promised the same accessibility, diversity and inclusion under the new brand and highly interactive format.

Kaiser will join previously announced speakers, including former NASA astronaut Joan Higginbotham and Irish venture capitalist Elaine Coughlan, at the event in Trinity Business School on 21 and 22 May 2020.

Future Human is Silicon Republic’s international technology, science and business event celebrating meaning, values and purpose with collaborative, interactive and hands-on experiences. Early Bird tickets for Future Human 2020 are available now.