The Great Hack review – searing exposé of the Cambridge Analytica scandal

the Guardian | 7/23/2019 | Peter Bradshaw


‘Data rights are human rights” is the rallying cry of this gripping, challenging documentary by Karim Amer and Jehane Noujaim, about the biggest scandal of our time: the gigantic question mark over the legality of the Brexit vote.

It is about the Trump campaign, the Leave.EU campaign and many other reckless electoral adventures all over the world and their connection with Cambridge Analytica, the British data research company that cunningly harvested information from millions of Facebook users and their friends via an innocuous-seeming “personality” questionnaire. They put this gigantic database to lucrative work with machine-tooled marketing campaigns for Trump and the Brexiters; after the company declared bankruptcy, its documentation may never come to light.

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At the centre of the film is Brittany Kaiser, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who blows the whistle on her employers’ connections, including those with the Bad Boys of Brexit, whose bad-tempered éminence grise Arron Banks is now trying to silence Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr – as well as this film – with legal threats.

We are aware of these issues in the first place only because of the magnificently tough investigative reporting by Cadwalladr, who asks if we can ever again have a free and fair election. She has had to face down bullying and supercilious condescension from many quarters. The Great Hack is also about the US media academic David Carroll who launched a legal campaign in the UK to force Cambridge Analytica to reveal their “data report” on him. I was reminded of historian Timothy Garton Ash’s efforts to find his Stasi file, written by spies in the former East Germany. Ash was successful, but Carroll will probably never see his data digital dossier.

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There is evidence pointing to campaign finance laws being broken. Yet perhaps the larger point is that these were framed in the quaint...
(Excerpt) Read more at: the Guardian
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