In this explosive memoir, a political consultant and technology whistleblower reveals the disturbing truth about the multi-billion-dollar data industry, revealing to the public how companies are getting richer using our personal information and exposing how Cambridge Analytica exploited weaknesses in privacy laws to help elect Donald Trump.
When Brittany Kaiser joined Cambridge Analytica – the UK-based political consulting firm funded by conservative billionaire and Donald Trump patron Robert Mercer – she was an idealistic young professional working on her fourth degree in human rights law and international relations. A veteran of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, Kaiser’s goal was to utilize data for humanitarian purposes, most notably to prevent genocide and human rights abuses. But her experience inside Cambridge Analytica opened her eyes to the tremendous risks that this unregulated industry poses to privacy and democracy.
Targeted is Kaiser’s eyewitness chronicle of the dramatic and disturbing story of the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytica. She reveals to the public how Facebook’s lax policies and lack of sufficient national laws allowed voters to be manipulated in both Britain and the United States, where personal data was weaponised to spread fake news and racist messaging during the Brexit vote and the 2016 election. But the damage isn’t done Kaiser warns; the 2020 election can be compromised as well if we continue to do nothing.
In the aftermath of the U.S. election, as she became aware of the horrifying reality of what Cambridge Analytica had done in support of Donald Trump, Kaiser made the difficult choice to expose the truth. Risking her career, relationships, and personal safety, she told authorities about the data industry’s unethical business practices, eventually testifying before Parliament.
Packed with never-before-publicly-told stories, Targeted goes inside the secretive meetings with Trump campaign personnel and details the promises Cambridge Analytica made to win. Throughout, Kaiser makes the case for regulation, arguing that legal oversight of the data industry is not only justifiable but essential to ensuring the long-term safety of our democracy.
About the author
Brittany Kaiser holds degrees in human rights law and international relations from the University of Edinburgh, the University of London’s Birkbeck College and London’s Middlesex University. She is the founder of the #OwnYourData campaign and cofounder of the Digital Asset Trade Association (DATA), a nonprofit lobbying firm advancing legislative and policy reform to protect the rights of individuals to control their own digital assets. To raise awareness of data rights, she recently cofounded the Own Your Data Foundation, to promote digital literacy and STEM education. Brittany is also the primary subject of the Netflix Original documentary The Great Hack, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.
In this explosive debut, whistle-blower Kaiser chronicles her experience working at Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 Brexit referendum and the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. Kaiser was a lifelong Democrat working on a PhD in diplomacy and human rights when she joined the company as a consultant and became CEO Alexander Nix's prot g . Throughout, Kaiser describes how Cambridge and other companies mine online data and how that data is used to create hyperspecific (and usually misleading) targeted political ads. In the case of the Trump campaign, this meant using illicitly acquired Facebook data to produce and disseminate "thousands of individual ad campaigns within campaigns... separate suites of content aimed... at millions of segmented voters in different states, regions, and even neighborhoods." Kaiser also candidly discusses her reasons for abandoning her principles to work for Cambridge; without excusing her behavior entirely, she claims to have "fallen under the spell of a charismatic man who preyed on vulnerabilities." Captivating and revelatory, Kaiser's personal story explores the dangers of falling victim to the allure of money and power, and warns readers that data analytics can be misused to undermine democracy. With the 2020 election just around the corner, this account should be required reading.