UK data agency linked to Brexit group and Trump denies 'military disinformation' work

SCL Group, a behavioural analysis, data and messaging group who worked on Donald Trump's US presidential bid and had been lined up to work on a Brexit campaign, has denied a media report that it works on military "disinformation" campaigns.

'No disinformation': SCL fires back after media report
'No disinformation': SCL fires back after media report

The company sent out a statement on PR Newswire just before midnight UK time yesterday (Wednesday), saying that it "categorically refutes the unsupported claim made in the media recently that it has worked on military 'disinformation' campaigns".

It continues: "SCL Group only works with NATO or western allied militaries where disinformation is specifically prohibited.

"This is widely articulated in multiple open source and publicly available military doctrine documents, and has been reiterated in numerous public statements, speeches, documents and academic papers by SCL Group staff over many years. All SCL Group communications work has been, and will remain, truthful and attributable."

SCL Group is based in London, and says on its website that it works in commercial, social, political and defence sectors, and "offers bespoke data modeling and psychographic target audience analysis to identify and engage with people to move them to action".

Its US brand Cambridge Analytica said in late 2015 that it would be working Leave.EU, one of the campaigns supporting a UK exit from the EU. However, a spokesman for SCL has said never did "any paid or unpaid work for the Leave.EU campaign", but had appeared at the campaign's launch event having not finalised a potential contract.

At the time, Cambridge Analytica was also working with a number of US Republican presidential candidates, and in June began working with successful candidate and now president Donald Trump, a fact that became public knowledge after his victory and has since been widely publicised.

An article on the website Extreme Tech published earlier yesterday – entitled ‘Meet the weaponized propaganda AI that knows you better than you know yourself' – says SCL has "secretive but highly paid disinformation and psy-ops contract work on at least four continents".

PRWeek contacted SCL’s London press office to ask whether that was the article it was specifically referring to, but had not received an answer by press deadlines.

SCL's website also says: "We've worked with brands, political organizations and advocacy groups all over the world, and our methodology has been approved by the UK Ministry of Defence, the US State Department, Sandia National Laboratories and NATO."

This article was corrected on 2 March. On SCL's request, information on the nature and length of its relationship with Leave.EU was added. SCL also confirmed that it had worked with the Trump campaign - the story had initially said this had been "reported in a number of outlets". The headline was altered to reflect these changes.

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