Cambridge Analytica, the UK-based data firm responsible for harvesting user data from Facebook, was planning to develop its own cryptocurrency for the purpose of storing and selling personal data. Facebook recently confirmed that it has identified 87 million accounts whose profile information had been scraped by Cambridge Analytica. It seems the data analytics firm had a larger goal beyond political advertising to incentivize the data for cryptocurrency.
Reuters and The New York Times first reported it, explaining that the Cambridge Analytica intended to raise funds through an initial coin offering, also that the digital coin would have helped people store online personal data and even sell it, former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser told the Times.
Cambridge Analytica, which obtained the data of 87 million Facebook users, was hoping to raise as much as $30 million through the venture, anonymous sources told Reuters. Cambridge Analytica confirmed to Reuters that it had previously explored blockchain technology, but did not confirm the coin offering and didn’t say whether efforts are still underway.
Cambridge Analytica’s plans were detailed by Brittany Kaiser, the former employee of the firm, in her testimony to the UK Commons digital, culture, media and sport select committee. Kaiser also confirmed that she was in charge of the coin offering at Cambridge Analytica. She told the committee that the data firm’s idea is to pay people in far-flung which it has started in parts Mexico , payment are made in form of cryptocurrency as a reward for filling out the surveys.
The company is also reportedly attempted to promoting another digital currency behind the scenes. It recently arranged for potential investors to take a vacation trip to Macau in support of Dragon Coin, a cryptocurrency aimed at casino players. Dragon Coin has been supported by a Macau gangster Wan Kuok-koi, nicknamed Broken Tooth, according to documents obtained by the Times.
ICOs have become an easy and dubious way for funds raising, even rivaling early stage venture capital funding in effectiveness for some companies. Companies like Kodak and Telegram have pivoted to launch their own ICOs and reaped financial rewards. But even as they emerged as a new way for companies to rapidly gain funding, ICOs have increasingly fallen under the SEC’s eye as securities that need to be regulated.