Sun | Jul 12, 2020

Powwow over T&T probe into Cambridge Analytica hacking saga

Published:Thursday | November 14, 2019 | 12:00 AM

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):

The main opposition United National Congress (UNC) said that the Cambridge Analytica (CA) whistle-blower, Christopher Wylie, “has not named a single person in Trinidad”, even as the government announced that it would ask the necessary authorities to launch criminal investigations into the services provided by the British-based political consulting firm.

National Security Minister Stuart Young told a news conference that the investigations were necessary following the publication of a book by Wylie, who has gone on the record to discuss his role in hijacking the profiles of Trinidad and Tobago nationals in order to target the last general election on behalf of the United National Congress (UNC).

“We are also considering the appointment of a special prosecutor and investigator to look into this because this is extremely serious, and what is even more frightening is that I have reason to believe this continues,” Young told reporters.

But in an immediate response, the UNC, in a statement, said that it was alarmed at the lengths to which senior members of the government would go to create a distraction to the many ills facing the country.

It said that neither young nor Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi had fact-checked Wylie.

Where is the proof?

“These members of the National Security Council should tell this country at what point they reported Mr Wylie to the police for spying on Trinidad and Tobago. To date, Mr Wylie has never clearly stated his role and has not named a single person in Trinidad with whom he was working or liaising, not provided a shred of evidence, no report that he wrote for his alleged employers in Trinidad,” the UNC said, asking, “Where is the contract or cheque that proves that he was hired and paid?”

The party said that the two senior members of the government had “watched a show on Netflix and read a book and then came to the people of Trinidad and Tobago to claim they have evidence”.

“They are stating their fairy tale as fact. These people ought not to be in charge of anything. If Young read A Song of Ice and Fire, would he hold a press conference to say, ‘Winter is coming?’”

During his news conference, Young read extensively from the publication in which Wylie outlined the manner in which CA undertook its operations here.

Young said Wylie, by his publication, confirmed the breaches in the Interception of Communications Act, noting that CA personnel were “able in far-off places to just click on your IP address … which is just a dot to them, but when they click on that dot, they can see everything you are seeing … and that is what was taking place.”

“In a nutshell, Trinidad and Tobago is an epicentre of a spying mechanism, a machinery using tools to attack our democracy and to abuse our citizens, and this is something that we, the government of Trinidad and Tobago, are not taking lightly,” Young said.