Former Cambridge Analytica staff working on Trump 2020 election campaign

18 Jun 2018

Trump Tower, New York City. Image: Andrea Izzoti/Shutterstock

A new company run by former staff members at Cambridge Analytica is apparently working on Trump’s 2020 campaign.

Data Propria, a data analytics firm helmed by a former Cambridge Analytica executive, is working on US president Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, according to the Associated Press (AP).

It reported that Data Propria had commenced work on a project similar to the work carried out by Cambridge Analytica for Trump in 2016. CEO of Data Propria, Matt Oczkowski, flatly denied the claim.

Helping out on Trump 2020?

According to AP, at least four former Cambridge Analytica employees are affiliated with Data Propria. Oczkowksi was formerly the defunct firm’s head of product. Although he denies working on the Trump 2020 campaign, he did say that Data Propria will be doing 2018 work for the Republican National Committee.

Two AP reporters are said to have overheard a conversation held in a public place between Oczkowski and Trump’s 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, where the former said his new company was “doing the president’s work for 2020”.

One of the former Cambridge Analytica staffers currently on the Data Propria team is David Wilkinson, a data scientist who helped oversee the data modelling that led to the Trump campaign’s particular focus on the Rust Belt region in the US in 2016’s campaign. Oczkowski said Wilkinson would not be involved in the new company’s US-based political work.

Oczkowksi had previously stated that Data Propria has no intention of taking on clients in the political sphere. According to Parscale, contracts for work relating directly to 2020 have not yet been awarded. “I am laser-focused on the 2018 midterms and holding the House and increasing our seats in the Senate. Once we do those things, I’ll start working on re-electing President Trump.” He added that the conversation he had with Oczkowski about 2020 was speculative in nature.

Cambridge Analytica hits the skids

Cambridge Analytica was hit by a maelstrom of controversy in March 2018 when details of unauthorised use of millions of Facebook users’ data emerged. In May, the embattled data company filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations, but an investigation into its practices by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office is set to continue despite the shutdown.

The services provided by Data Propria are similar to those previously offered by Cambridge Analytica, including profiling voters based on personal information and other data-mining techniques. Oczkowski said the new company would be focusing on using data in campaign operations as opposed to psychological analysis of prospective voters.

Trump Tower, New York City. Image: Andrea Izzoti/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects