PH firm Istratehiya denies ever working with Cambridge Analytica
The local company allegedly affiliated with Cambridge Analytica’s mother company Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) denied that it had ever worked with the US firm as it stressed that nothing came out of their “exploratory talks” in 2015.
On its website, SCL lists as one of its 12 offices worldwide Manila’s Istrathehiya Inc.
But in a statement, Istratehiya distanced itself and its management team from the American firm at the center of the data breach scandal that potentially affected 87 million Facebook users globally.
“There were discussions regarding the possibility of working together on some projects, but nothing came out of these exploratory talks. We never worked on anything, ever. We just talked,” said Istratehiya president Jed Eva III, an assistant secretary in the Office of the President during the Aquino administration.
He added that among the ideas they had discussed with SCL were the “knowledge and experience gleaned from campaigns around the world, and the firm contributing its familiarity with Philippine sociopolitical dynamics.”
“We wanted to learn from them, and they wanted to learn from us. In this line of work, you have to keep abreast with the latest strategies, tactics, and technologies so that you can properly help your principals. This is why it often helps to go abroad for additional training and education; you can never stop learning,” he said.
Eva said that they were perplexed with SCL’s listing of “Istrathehiya” (with an extra H) as an affiliate as this was “not just a typographical error, but a factual error.”
He noted that when they were made aware “a while back” that their firm and their old office was on the SCL website, they requested it to be taken down. However, he said that SCL did not comply with their request.
To date, the National Privacy Commission (NPC) is looking into the extent of the breach to the over 1.175 million Filipino Facebook users, since the Philippines is the country with the second highest number of individuals whose personal data are believed to have been improperly shared with SCL.
The data obtained from users are said to have been used to create political messages aimed to influence the 2016 elections. But Eva noted that their firm was not a part of then Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign.
Following this incident, the NPC has called on the public to become more vigilant and circumspect in using the social networking site, given the amount of data that can be mined from their accounts.
Eva added that to set the record straight, “Atty. Millan is not a lawyer and family friend of Duterte,” as reported.
“He does not want this imputation to persist, lest he be accused of namedropping, misrepresentation, or otherwise taking advantage of the supposed relationship when the truth is that such does not exist,” Eva said. “To reiterate, he was likewise not involved in the 2016 election campaign of the President.” /atm
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