The Facebook data set on tens of millions of Americans that was gathered for Cambridge Analytica was accessed from within Russia, British MP Damian Collins today told CNN.
Damian Collins, the Conservative MP leading a British parliamentary investigation into online disinformation, told CNN that a British investigation found evidence that the data, collected by Professor Aleksandr Kogan on behalf of Cambridge Analytica, had been accessed from Russia and other countries. The discovery was made by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Britain's data protection authority, Collins said.
"I think what we want to know now is who were those people and what access did they have, and were they actually able to take some of that data themselves and use it for whatever things they wanted," Collins said.
Kogan, a psychology professor at Cambridge University, started working with Cambridge Analytica in 2014, building a personality app on Facebook that gathered data from its users, and all the users' friends as well. Data on tens of millions of Americans was gathered.
Kogan's response to all of this, basically: I didn't give Facebook data I gathered for Cambridge Analytica to any Russian entity, but maybe someone who just happened to be in Russia could have accessed data from my computer without my knowledge.
"On my side, I am not aware of any Russian entity with access to my data," he added. He didn't rule out that he may have inadvertently exposed the data while in Russia.
Responding to Collins' comments, Kogan told CNN, "I don't know what could have happened to the data once I handed it over to Cambridge Analytica so it is difficult for me to speculate."
Kogan said he would need to see more information before commenting further, adding, "This could be really innocuous, it could be as simple as an SCL (Cambridge Analytica's British parent company) representative was in Russia and they remotely access the server to see some of the files."
"It could have nothing to do with the Russian authorities, it could just be someone checking their mailbox."