Her involvement is so vital to the country’s fight for democracy that Alex Bornyakov, Ukraine’s deputy minister for digital transformation, told The Washington Post that without her, his country would The war effort will be different. “Brittany has always been a good friend of mine — a good friend to me and Ukraine,” he said in an interview, citing Caesar’s strategic game plan as the country battled a bloody invasion Connect with social media. “We’re really happy to have her.”
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To many familiar with Caesar’s story, supporting the Ukrainian cause may seem like an unexpected turn of events. At Cambridge Analytica, Kaiser not only worked closely with Trump adviser Stephen K. Bannon, but also helped facilitate the company’s relationship with Kremlin-linked Russian energy company Lukoil. But Caesar said her new work fits into a redemption story that began when she began leaking damning information about her former employer after she came under fire in 2018.
News of Kaiser’s role in helping Ukraine adds a new twist to the complex character study of millennials (she is now in her 30s), where she combines cutting-edge digital tools with old-fashioned political instincts. It raises the question of how to deal with a world where technology often disrupts ideology.
Over 100,000 people worldwide have used cryptocurrencies to donate to Ukraine’s war effort, a grassroots corollary of foreign government aid. Ukrainian officials estimate that at least $100 million has entered its treasury, and tens of millions have poured into NGOs such as Back Alive, which are beginning to benefit pro-Ukrainian fighters in the eastern part of the country. The funds allow Ukraine to buy everything from medical supplies to food to bulletproof vests.
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After a long adventure, Caesar comes to the center of this story.
Back in the 2016 presidential campaign season, Cambridge Analytica improperly collected data on tens of millions of people with the help of Facebook, so it could target “persuasive people” in swing states with a flurry of ads. Many pundits believe this strategy got Trump elected.
At the heart of this work is Kaiser, who started working for the now-defunct Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL in 2015, securing numerous key partnerships. As the scandal erupted in 2018, she gained a degree of fame, testifying in UK parliamentary investigations, releasing documents and positioning herself as a whistleblower. (Cambridge Analytica was also retained by the Brexit furlough campaign, which led to Britain leaving the European Union.)
Her fame got a boost from the 2019 Netflix documentary “The Great Hack,” in which Caesar played a stressed-out hero trying to atone for her invasion of privacy. Kaiser also published a whistleblower memoir, “Targeted,” and founded a group called Own Your Data, which advocates for citizens to take back their data from invasive sexual exploiters.
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Over the past few years, Kaiser has also reinvented himself as an advocate for cryptocurrencies, a technology-based monetary system that some believe can become a democratizing political force. Kaiser gave Wyoming lawmakers a set of crypto-friendly laws and was involved in the presidential campaign of Brock Pierce, the child actor turned crypto millionaire who made a statement in 2020. He is now running for the U.S. Senate in Vermont as an independent.
When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Caesar jumped right into the spat. She negotiated with former global football star David Beckham to have him promote cryptocurrency donations on his social media accounts.
She pushed the Ukrainian government to accept more cryptocurrencies (there are now about 15).
She also worked with Gavin Wood, the crypto pioneer who helped create the blockchain Ethereum, to facilitate his donation of millions of dollars in the Polkadot currency he created, and to recruit more donors in the so-called “Polkadot community.” To do this, Kaiser uses what amounts to a backchannel charm offensive and massing public tweets. Crypto fundraising is a lot like the real world — the skill is knowing where to look (and who to thank). Wood did not respond to a request for comment.
Kaiser, who recently met by phone with government leaders in Paris to discuss encryption-based human rights work, said she felt obligated to take part in the struggle in Ukraine.
“They were going up and down the dugout, so it was a lot easier for me to figure out what to tweet,” Caesar said, letting go of his signature laugh.
She said the exact amount she was responsible for was difficult to pin down. But she can make sense. “It’s hard to say — maybe a few hundred million was raised through wallets?”
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Shortly after she started raising money, Kaiser began touring the world with senior Ukrainian officials like Bornyakov and Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, even helping convince them in May to travel to the cryptocurrency pavilion she had previously set up in Davos, Her youthful dynamism matched the Ukrainian government’s pioneering technocratic spirit. She said her relationship with Bornakov became so close that they texted “essentially every day.”
In addition to attracting large donors, Bornyakov said, Kaiser also helped build “multi-signature” wallets — an advanced cryptographic storage application considered more secure because it requires verification by multiple users.
“What she did was amazing,” he said.
But not everyone accepts Caesar’s redemption story because it’s an opportunistic one, not a selfless one.
“Brittany will do a lot of Machiavellian stuff in her career to make her seem selfless, but it all depends on who she works for,” sued Cambridge Analytica and closely watched said digital rights activist David Carroll.Caesar’s work
He cited Cambridge Analytica’s alleged brutal tactics against Nigerian opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhari and others as evidence of the way she hired guns.
“In Brittany, the story she tells is never the whole story,” he added.
Caesar disagrees with these criticisms. She has seen a clear moral arc in her career, and Cambridge Analytica has only unfortunately strayed from that line.
“In Cambridge, I didn’t realise that there was no moral or moral compass in what I did most of the time,” she said. “But I’ve always been a very active human rights activist,” citing her work as a member of the media team during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. “It’s the best reason you can find.”
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Caesar even tried to turn her tenure at Cambridge into a sublime moment. On the website of the CAA spokesperson representing her, she describes herself as a “Cambridge Analytica whistleblower”.
Others, however, question this view. In his memoir, former Cambridge employee Christopher Wylie criticized the whistleblower’s claims, saying Caesar was only willing to lie when he had no choice.
Some Targeted reviewers observed a strange lack of repentance. “Like ‘Breaking Bad,’ by the end you get the sense that she cares more about her legacy than about any wrongdoing of her own,” NPR said in its review.
Some also noted Kaiser’s involvement with polarizing actors, such as Kaiser’s connection to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, as widely documented in a series of stories by The Observer’s Carole Cadwalladr.
Given that a cryptocurrency’s value depends on what those critics say are looking for bigger fools to buy it, Kaiser’s latest shift will do little to dissuade some skeptics. Kaiser’s actions get to the heart of the ambiguity of crypto ethics, where one man’s idealism is another man’s clamor.
But she dismissed those who opposed cryptocurrencies, just as she waved off her own opponents.
“Cryptocurrencies give people access to services and funds that they otherwise don’t have,” she said, arguing that the bank freeze would make it more difficult to transfer traditional currencies to Ukraine.
“It’s this totality where there is more consensus and democracy. It really matches my beliefs.”