|Strategic Communication Laboratories|
|Industry||Data mining, data analysis|
|Founded||1990as Behavioural Dynamics Institute|
|Founder||Nigel John Oakes|
|Defunct||1 May 2018|
|Headquarters||London, United Kingdom|
Nigel John Oakes|
Roger Michael Gabb
Julian David Wheatland
SCL Group (formerly Strategic Communication Laboratories) was a private British behavioural research and strategic communication company. In the United States, SCL has gained public recognition mainly through its affiliated corporation Cambridge Analytica. It performs data mining and data analysis on its audience. Based on results, communications will be specifically targeted to key audience groups to modify behaviour in accordance with the goal of SCL's client. The company describes itself as a "global election management agency". London-based SCL was founded by Nigel Oakes who serves as its CEO.
On 1 May 2018, SCL Group stated that it would be closing operations due to the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal. However, its website and staff continue to operate. SCL group is owned by its parent company SCL Elections.
In 1990, Nigel Oakes, who had a background in TV production and advertising, founded the Behavioural Dynamics Institute (BDI) as a research facility for strategic communication. The study of mass behavior and how to change it led him to establish Strategic Communication Laboratories in 1993. Oakes thought that in order to shift mass opinion, academic insights as gained through psychologists and anthropologists at BDI should be applied, and would be more successful than traditional advertising methods. BDI became a non-profit affiliate of SCL.
After an initial commercial success, SCL expanded into military and political arenas. It became known for alleged involvement "in military disinformation campaigns to social media branding and voter targeting". In 2005, “with a glitzy exhibit” at Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI), “the United Kingdom's largest showcase for military technology”, SCL demonstrated its capacity in “influence operations”: “to help orchestrate a sophisticated campaign of mass deception” on the public of a big city like London. According to its website, SCL has participated in over 25 international political and electoral campaigns since 1994.
SCL’s involvement in the political world has been primarily in the developing world where it has been used by the military and politicians to study and manipulate public opinion and political will. It uses what have been called “psy ops” to provide insight into the thinking of the target audience. SCL claimed to be able to help foment coups. According to its website, SCL has influenced elections in Italy, Latvia, Ukraine, Albania, Romania, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mauritius, India, Indonesia, The Philippines, Thailand, Taiwan, Colombia, Antigua, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, St. Kitts & Nevis, and Trinidad & Tobago. While the company initially got involved in elections in the United Kingdom, it ceased to do so after 1997 because staff members did not exhibit the same "aloof sensibility" as with projects abroad.
SCL formed Cambridge Analytica to participate in the election process in the United States. It entered the U.S. market in 2012, and was involved in 44 U.S. congressional, US Senate and state-level elections in the 2014 midterm elections. In 2015 it was disclosed that the company had entered the Republican Party presidential primaries for the 2016 election, primarily in support of Ted Cruz. CA is heavily funded by hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, a major supporter of Cruz and then Donald Trump, and is now under investigation by both the UK and the US governments.
Board of directors
As of March 2018, the company had four directors, namely Roger Michael Gabb, Alexander Nix, Nigel John Oakes and Julian David Wheatland. The company was first incorporated at Companies House on 20 July 2005 as Strategic Communication Laboratories Limited, using the shell company registrar SDG registrars limited which acts on behalf of nearly 4500 companies.
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- "Trump Data Gurus Leave Long Trail of Subterfuge, Dubious Dealing". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 3 April 2017.
- Lumb, David (2 May 2018). "Cambridge Analytica is shutting down following Facebook scandal". Engadget. Retrieved 2 May 2018.
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- Sasha Issenberg (12 November 2015). "Cruz-Connected Data Miner Aims to Get Inside U.S. Voters' Heads". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2 February 2016.
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- Robles, Raissa (4 April 2018). "How Cambridge Analytica's parent company helped 'man of action' Rodrigo Duterte win the 2016 Philippines election". South China Morning Post.
- "SCL Elections - Home". Archived from the original on 2016-02-16.
- Cadwalladr, Carole (26 February 2017). "Robert Mercer: The big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media". theguardian.com. The Observer.
- "List of officers - SGL". Companies house. Retrieved 23 March 2018.
- "Company information - SDG registrars limited". Companies house, UK. Retrieved 23 March 2018.