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Academic who created Cambridge Analytica's personality test is 'happy to testify': report

Academic who created Cambridge Analytica's personality test is 'happy to testify': report
From Mashable - March 19, 2018

Lawmakers are calling for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify in the wake of a massive data scandal centered around the political research company, Cambridge Analytica, and how it harvested the private Facebook data of more than 50 million Americans without their consent.

While the social network's founder is remaining silent in the wake of the controversy, an academic researcher directly involved is reportedly willing to speak.

In an email obtained by CNN, Aleksandr Kogan, the academic who helped Cambridge Analytica harvest user profile information of more than 50 million Americans, wrote to his colleagues at Cambridge University, "I have also seriously been asked if the FBI has reached out, if the two congressional committees in the United States have reached out, and if Parliament or any authorities in the UK have reached out."

"No one has I suspect they realize I am actually not a spy. Though if anyone does, I'd be more than happy to testify and speak candidly about the project," the email continued.

Mashable confirmed the existence of the email with Cambridge University, where Kogan still works.

Kogan played a key role in the ongoing controversy. He's the data scientist who created the personality test that then harvested the data of unsuspecting Facebook users, granting him access to users' names, demographic information, and even their friends' data. Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who spoke with the New York Times and The Observer, worked for Kogan.

Cambridge University is not directly affiliated with Cambridge Analytica, and Kogan's work for Cambridge Analytica was not tied to his job at the University. Though, the connection is currently being debated.

According to Facebook, the description for Kogan's app originally read, "This app is part of a research program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Cambridge." Kogan said in the email that he had updated the app's terms "granting [him] the right to sell and license the data," CNN wrote.

Facebook suspended Kogan's account on Friday, alleging he breached Facebook's policy by not using the data for the intended academic purposes. Wylie's Facebook account was also suspended.

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