/Gov Bryant linked Ole Miss with scrutinized British data firm

Gov Bryant linked Ole Miss with scrutinized British data firm

Gov. Phil Bryant made use of his connections with Brexit leaders to help a data company whose business practices were being investigated in the United Kingdom. He also helped the University of Mississippi do business. Bryant’s office referred Eldon Insurance Services, a U.K. company, to Insight Park University’s business incubator. Arron Banks, a British businessman, owns Eldon and a company called Big Data Dolphins. British agencies are investigating the use of data by Banks that funded the U.K.’s 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (commonly known as “Brexit”) campaign. The group is also being investigated for possible connections to Cambridge Analytica, which is the company that allegedly stole millions more Facebook users’ data in order to influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign. Brittany Kaiser, a whistleblower from Cambridge Analytica, testified before the British Parliament this week about Banks’ insurance company Eldon Insurance Services. She also claimed that his data firm Big Data Dolphins was working alongside “a data science team at University of Mississippi” following Banks’ termination of data contract negotiations with Cambridge Analytica. Kaiser suggested that the University of Mississippi could have processed or held U.K. citizens’ personal data in other countries, which is a possible criminal offense. Ryan Whittington, University of Mississippi spokesperson, denied any connection. Whittington stated that the university “has not received nor analyzed any Data from Big Data Dolphins Limited and Eldon Insurance Services Limited” but that Eldon Insurance had signed a lease agreement to use space at the university’s Insight Park. Whittington also said that there was no “research or educational partnership” between the university and the company. Whittington stated that neither the university nor any of these companies have established a research or educational relationship and that the space is currently not occupied. Magnolia State Live first reported details about Banks’ ties with the university. Kaiser testified in front of the British Parliament about Cambridge Analytica’s involvement in Leave.EU, a Brexit campaign group Banks founded in 2015. Kaiser stated that she worked alongside Banks and Andy Wigmore to create parallel proposals for Leave.EU. Independence Party and Eldon Insurance, Banks’ insurance company. Kaiser claimed that campaign staff used personal data of Eldon Insurance employees and that the organization could misuse personal data for political gain. There have been reports in the U.K. that data use would be against the Data Protection Act. However, banks this week denied any overlap in data usage. Kaiser stated this week that if the personal data of U.K. citizens, who only wanted to purchase car insurance, was used by GoSkippy or Eldon Insurance for political purposes (as may have been), people clearly didn’t opt-in for their data being used in this manner by Leave.EU. The evidence of Kaiser was attacked by Leave.EU as “a confusing litany of lies, allegations”, and Eldon Insurance denied that it shared any data with anyone according to a Guardian report. “No data was sent to Mississippi. According to the group, the unit is still in its planning stage. It does not employ anyone and is not yet operational. Wigmore stated earlier this year that the University of Mississippi would assist in the development of the Big Data Dolphins model. He said they met the faculty because they know the governor of Mississippi, and they also knew each other through their “Brexit Journey which led them both to Trump.” The university confirmed Wednesday that Bryant was responsible for the establishment of the relationship between Banks, the university, and Banks. Wittington, an Ole Miss spokesperson, stated that the governor’s office referred Eldon Insurance Services, Banks’ company, to the university’s Research Park as a potential economic development project. Knox Graham, a spokesman for Bryant told Mississippi Today that he was informed that Eldon Insurance planned to start a new research initiative at the University of Scotland. Bryant suggested that Eldon’s leadership look into Mississippi universities for research. Eldon was eventually connected to the University of Mississippi.” Graham stated in an email that Bryant trusts the University of Mississippi to make decisions about their relationship with Eldon Insurance. Graham pointed out that the “Gov. Bryant was in London this week to attend the Commonwealth Business Forum, which focuses on economic development efforts for Mississippi. Bryant also noted on the Paul Gallo radio program that he helped facilitate a deal that brought an “insurance business” to Oxford. Bryant stated, “It’s an incredible opportunity for Mississippi in an atmosphere looking forward to Brexit. And the trade opportunity it will provide the United States. “You can bring your business to Mississippi. We already have our first one coming down to Oxford. We’ll discuss that later. It’s an insurance company.” Bryant has strong ties to the key players, as documented in Banks’ 2017 book “The Bad Boys of Brexit”, which was reported by Mississippi Today. After a chance encounter in Cleveland, Ohio for the 2016 Republican National Convention, Nigel Farage, the governor, and Bryant became friends. This unusual relationship resulted in the governor inviting Farage to Jackson, Mississippi in 2016, as well as former presidential candidate Donald Trump. Banks describes that the first Mississippi trip as “one of the most extraordinary and extraordinary political journeys” in Farage’s long history of extraordinary political trips. Bryant has also hosted the Brexit leaders in Mississippi many times. He has also appeared regularly on Farage’s radio show in London. Bryant was present in the stadium’s skyboxes along with Banks, Wigmore, and British billionaire Michael Ashcroft during an Ole Miss football match on Nov. 2, 2017. According to his tweet, Lord Ashcroft fired up the on-field cannon when Ole Miss scored a touchdown.