Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower Fears for 2020 U.S. Election

(Bloomberg) -- The whistle-blower behind the Cambridge Analytica revelations said he had no confidence that enough is being done to prevent foreign interference via social media in the run-up to the 2020 U.S. Presidential election.

Christopher Wylie said too much attention is paid to Russia’s role in global election influence, and governments should not assume that any future disinformation efforts would be focused on a partisan agenda, or originate from the same nations.

“There’s too much focus on Russia,” he said. “They were the first on the block, but I’ll tell you, they’re not the only ones there anymore.”

In the run up to the U.S. midterms at least three congressional candidates were hit with phishing attacks that strongly resemble Russian sabotage in the 2016 campaign. Among them was Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat in one of the year’s most hotly contested races.

Wylie was a former employee of Cambridge Analytica who blew the whistle on a data-privacy scandal involving the firm’s role in the 2016 presidential election. Asked whether the efforts of governments, regulators, and social-media companies to stamp out future interference has been enough to protect the next major U.S. election, he said “absolutely not.”

Even though companies such as Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. are under fire for their handling of user privacy, misinformation and hate speech, Wylie believes legislation is still lacking.

“Some of the conversations I’ve had with regulators, where they’re at right now is just learning about the problem,” Wylie said in an interview with Bloomberg on the sidelines of the Web Summit conference in Lisbon this week. “They are nowhere near creating any kind of regulatory changes. And frankly, regulators right now in the United States don’t have the power to even institute that much of a change because Congress has to act and they’re certainly not doing anything about it.”

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