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Senate panel to call key Cambridge Analytica figure to testify

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A U.S. Senate Commerce Committee panel plans to call a former Cambridge Analytica contractor at the center of a scandal involving the use of data from millions of Facebook users, a committee source told Reuters on Thursday.

The panel’s subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, Insurance, and Data Security will hold a hearing next Tuesday on data privacy risks focusing on Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultancy, and other Facebook Inc (FB.O) partners, the committee announced Wednesday.

The session follows hearings in April with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and will focus “on the collection and use of social media data, the privacy concerns raised in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal, and potential steps to protect consumers,” the committee said.

The committee will call Aleksandr Kogan, a contractor for Cambridge Analytica, to testify, a source briefed on the matter said. A lawyer for Kogan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Facebook said in April that the personal information of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. The London-based consultancy’s clients included President Donald Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

Facebook says Kogan harvested the data by creating an app on the social media network that was downloaded by 270,000 people, providing access not only to their own personal data but also data from their friends. Facebook said Kogan then violated its policies by passing the data to Cambridge Analytica.

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Cambridge Analytica disputed Facebook’s estimate of how many users were affected.

Cambridge Analytica and its British parent, SCL Elections Ltd, said in May that they would shut down immediately and begin bankruptcy proceedings in both the United Kingdom and the United States after suffering a sharp drop in business. Cambridge Analytica filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in New York last month.

In April, Kogan, who worked for the University of Cambridge, told British lawmakers that all the data he collected had, to the best of his knowledge, been deleted. He said he would double-check that none remained.

“This has been a very painful experience, because, when I entered into all of this, Facebook was a close ally,” Kogan said. “I was thinking this would be helpful to my academic career and my relationship with Facebook. It has very clearly done the complete opposite.”

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Also expected to appear at next week’s hearing are John Battelle, who helped found Wired Magazine and is a board member of database marketing company Acxiom Corp (ACXM.O), and Ashkan Soltani, who was former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission during the administration of President Barack Obama.

Reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Report typos and corrections to [email protected].
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2020 Election

Ta-Nehisi Coates: ‘Joe Biden shouldn’t be president’

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Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden is under fire for fondly reminiscing about his “civil” relationship with segregationist senators in the 1970s and 1980s. Speaking at a fundraiser at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City on Tuesday night, Biden expressed nostalgia for his relationship with the late Democratic pro- segregation Senators James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia. Biden reportedly said, “I was in a caucus with James O. Eastland. … He never called me 'boy'; he called me 'son.'” Biden went on to say, “A guy like Herman Talmadge, one of the meanest guys I ever knew, you go down the list of all these guys. Well, guess what. At least there was some civility. We got things done.” Biden was widely criticized by other Democratic presidential contenders, including Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Bill de Blasio. We speak with acclaimed writer Ta-Nehisi Coates about Joe Biden’s long record on the wrong side of civil rights legislation, from opposing busing in the 1970s to helping to fuel mass incarceration in 1990s. Coates says, “Joe Biden shouldn’t be president.”

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Canada is taking advantage of Trump’s tariff pratfalls by scooping up new trade partners: report

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As American manufacturers reel and U.S. farmers see their economic well-being being destroyed by Donald Trump's trade wars, the Canadian government is stepping into the breach and boosting their own trade relations, reports Politico.

As part of their Global Translations podcast, Politico notes that countries -- and manufacturers -- are not standing by helplessly as Trump threatens and changes directions on trade on almost a daily basis.

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Lost version of Delacroix masterpiece discovered in Paris

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A newly discovered version of Eugene Delacroix's Orientalist masterpiece, "Women of Algiers" went on display for the first time in Paris on Thursday.

The lost study for the painting by the French Romantic painter which inspired generations of artists including Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne was discovered in a Paris apartment 18 months ago.

Since then experts have been retracing its history and carrying out X-ray and infra-red tests on the picture.

Like the much larger version in the Louvre, it shows a reclining wealthy woman and a black servant.

The canvass disappeared after it was sold in 1850 by the French diplomat Charles-Edgar de Mornay, with whom the painter went to North Africa in 1831, shortly after the French conquest of Algeria.

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