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WorkFusion adds $50 million from strategic investors as it bulks up for acquisitions

WorkFusion , a business process automation software developer, has raised $50 million in a new, strategic round of funding as it prepares to start adding new verticals to its product suite. The company’s new cash came from the large insurance company, Guardian; healthcare services provider New York-Presbyterian; and the commercial bank, PNC Bank. Venture investor Alpha Intelligence Capital, which specializes in backing artificial intelligence-enabled companies, also participated in the new financing. Certainly WorkFusion seems to have come a long way since its days hiring crowdsourced workers to train algorithms how to automate the workflows that used to be done manually. The company has raised a lot of money — roughly $121 million, according to Crunchbase — which is some kind of validation, and in its core markets of financial services and insurance it’s attracted some real fans. “Guardian uses data to better understand and serve customers, and WorkFusion will bring new data-driven intelligence capabilities into the company,” said Dean Del Vecchio, executive vice president, chief information officer and head of Enterprise Shared Services at Guardian, in a statement. “We look to invest in and deploy RPA and AI technology that can help us leap forward in operations and improve outcomes — WorkFusion has that potential.” According to chief executive Alex Lyashok, the company now intends to begin looking at acquisition opportunities that can “complement our technology,” he said. “WorkFusion today is focused on banking, financial services and insurance. This problem of automation is not endemic to those industries.” Particularly of interest to the New York-based company are those industries that missed out on the first wave of automation and digitization. “Industries that have already invested in digitization are being very aggressive, but companies that have been very manual and then have not developed a technology program internally,” also represent a big opportunity, Lyashok said.

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Cambridge Analytica has been shut out of Twitter’s ad platform too

It has emerged that Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy firm at the center of a data misuse storm involving Facebook user data, has also been banned from advertising on Twitter’s platform. Facebook suspended the company’s account in March after fresh revelations were published about how user data had been passed to the company by a developer on its platform — although the Guardian newspaper originally linked the firm to Facebook data in a story published in December 2015. A Twitter spokesperson confirmed to us what the company describes as a “policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned and operated by Cambridge Analytica on advertising”, adding the decision was taken “weeks” ago. “This decision is based on our determination that Cambridge Analytica operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices. Cambridge Analytica may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules,” the company spokesperson added. The move is unrelated to reports yesterday that Twitter had sold public user data to Dr Aleksandr Kogan — the Cambridge University academic who sold Facebook data to Cambridge Analytica in 2014, after harvesting it via an app that drew on Facebook’s APIs to pull information on users and their friends. Last month Kogan told a UK parliamentary committee  he had subsequently used some of the money Cambridge Analytica had paid him for gathering and processing the Facebook data to buy some Twitter data, though he said he had intended to use that for his own purposes, not for selling to others. On this, Twitter’s spokesperson also told us: “Based on the recent reports, we conducted our own internal review and did not find any access to any private data about people who use Twitter.  Unlike many other services, Twitter is public by its nature. People come to Twitter to speak publicly, and public Tweets are viewable and searchable by anyone. In 2015, GSR Kogan’s comapny did have one-time API access to a random sample of public Tweets from a five-month period from December 2014 to April 2015.” Cambridge Analytica has also denied undertaking a project with Kogan’s company that used Twitter data. Cambridge Analytica has never received Twitter data from GSR or Aleksandr Kogan, and has never done any work with GSR on Twitter data. GSR was only ever a contractor to Cambridge Analytica and we understand it did work for many other companies. — Cambridge Analytica (@CamAnalytica) April 30, 2018 Although the company has also continued to deny it received Facebook data — despite the existence of a 2014 contract between the company and Kogan to gather data; and despite Kogan’s own insistences that his app harvested Facebook user data

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Facebook suspends another data firm: AggregateIQ

Late Friday the Cambridge Analytica data scandal spread wider, as Facebook announced it has also suspended Canadian data firm Aggregate IQ. In a statement to The Guardian, Facebook said "In light of recent reports that AggregateIQ may be affiliated w...

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Facebook reportedly suspends AggregateIQ over connection to improper data-sharing

AggregateIQ, a Canadian advertising tech and audience intelligence company, has been suspended by Facebook for allegedly being closely connected with SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, reported the National Observer . News broke late last month that AIQ, which was deeply involved with (and handsomely paid by) pro-Leave Brexit groups, was not the independent Canadian data broker it claimed to be . Christopher Wylie, the whistleblower who blew the lid off the Cambridge Analytica story, explained it candidly to The Guardian : Essentially it was set up as a Canadian entity for people who wanted to work on SCL projects who didn’t want to move to London. That’s how AIQ got started: originally to service SCL and Cambridge Analytica projects. AIQ has maintained that it has operated independently. Dogged denials appear on its webpage : AggregateIQ has never been and is not a part of Cambridge Analytica or SCL. Aggregate IQ has never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica . Chris Wylie has never been employed by AggregateIQ. AggregateIQ has never managed, nor did we ever have access to, any Facebook data or database allegedly obtained improperly by Cambridge Analytica. But the reporting in the Guardian makes these claims hard to take seriously. For instance, a founding member was listed on Cambridge Analytica’s website as working at “SCL Canada,” the company had no website or phone number of its own for some time, and until 2016, AIQ’s only client was Cambridge Analytica. It really looks as if AIQ is simply a Canadian shell under which operations could be said to be performed independent of CA and SCL. Whatever the nature of the connection, it was convincing enough for Facebook to put them in the same bucket.

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Regulators in the UK are also calling for more hearings into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

As more details emerge about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data in the U.S. presidential election, members of Parliament in the UK are joining congressional leadership in the U.S. to call for a deeper investigation and potential regulatory action. The Chair of parliamentary committee investigating “fake news”, the conservative MP Damian Collins, accused both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook of misleading his committee’s investigation in a statement early Sunday morning indicating that both companies would be called in for more questioning. “ Alexander Nix denied to the Committee last month that his company had received any data from the Global Science Research company (GSR). From the evidence that has been published by The Guardian and The Observer this weekend, it seems clear that he has deliberately mislead the Committee and Parliament by giving false statements,” Collins wrote in a statement to the press. “We will be contacting Alexander Nix next week asking him to explain his comments, and answer further questions relating to the links between GSR and Cambridge Analytica, and its associate companies.” On Friday, Facebook announced that it had suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica for violating the social media company’s terms and conditions by obtaining user data from a third party source without users’ permissions. The announcement, made late Friday night, was designed to preempt reports published by  The New York Times  and   The Guardian  that would have exposed the fact that Cambridge Analytica had obtained information on 50 million Facebook users — and that Facebook had known about the improper availability of that user data for two years. The use or abuse of that data by Cambridge Analytica in work that it had done with Donald Trump’s campaign for President in 2016 and potentially for other businesses in the run up to the election is at the heart of Donal Before basically verifying the accuracy of the story, Facebook had threatened both  The Times  and  The Guardian with legal action to try and kill it. So. One day ahead of publication, Squire Patton & Boggs, lawyers for Cambridge Analytica, drop @guardian a line…. pic.twitter.com/ibSWo6Tvyq — Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) May 14, 2017 The company’s response to the reports aren’t impressing anyone — and could land more than just its chief counsel in the hot seat. Facebook Chief Legal Officer Colin Stretch “We have repeatedly asked Facebook about how companies acquire and hold on to user data from their site, and in particular whether data had been taken from people without their consent. Their answers have consistently understated this risk, and have also been misleading to the Committee,” Collins wrote

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Regulators in the UK are also calling for more hearings into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

As more details emerge about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data in the U.S. presidential election, members of Parliament in the UK are joining congressional leadership in the U.S. to call for a deeper investigation and potential regulatory action. The Chair of parliamentary committee investigating “fake news”, the conservative MP Damian Collins, accused both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook of misleading his committee’s investigation in a statement early Sunday morning indicating that both companies would be called in for more questioning. “ Alexander Nix denied to the Committee last month that his company had received any data from the Global Science Research company (GSR). From the evidence that has been published by The Guardian and The Observer this weekend, it seems clear that he has deliberately mislead the Committee and Parliament by giving false statements,” Collins wrote in a statement to the press. “We will be contacting Alexander Nix next week asking him to explain his comments, and answer further questions relating to the links between GSR and Cambridge Analytica, and its associate companies.” On Friday, Facebook announced that it had suspended the account of Cambridge Analytica for violating the social media company’s terms and conditions by obtaining user data from a third party source without users’ permissions. The announcement, made late Friday night, was designed to preempt reports published by  The New York Times  and   The Guardian  that would have exposed the fact that Cambridge Analytica had obtained information on 50 million Facebook users — and that Facebook had known about the improper availability of that user data for two years. The use or abuse of that data by Cambridge Analytica in work that it had done with Donald Trump’s campaign for President in 2016 and potentially for other businesses in the run up to the election is at the heart of Donal Before basically verifying the accuracy of the story, Facebook had threatened both  The Times  and  The Guardian with legal action to try and kill it. So. One day ahead of publication, Squire Patton & Boggs, lawyers for Cambridge Analytica, drop @guardian a line…. pic.twitter.com/ibSWo6Tvyq — Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) May 14, 2017 The company’s response to the reports aren’t impressing anyone — and could land more than just its chief counsel in the hot seat. Facebook Chief Legal Officer Colin Stretch “We have repeatedly asked Facebook about how companies acquire and hold on to user data from their site, and in particular whether data had been taken from people without their consent

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