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Alexander Nix, CEO, Cambridge Analytica, speaks at the 2017 Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Horacio Villalobos, Corbis/Getty Images

Strategic Communications Laboratories, best known for its work with its offshoot and collaborator Cambridge Analytica, appears to have an open contract with the State Department. DefenseOne first noted the contract on a government contracts database, where it is listed as still open.

Why it matters: Cambridge Analytica has domestically come under fire for fraudulently slurping data off of Facebook through user quizzes. But the United States is among the most lenient countries in the world when it comes to data privacy. SCL received a $500,000 contract for "target audience research" to help the State Department counter ISIS propaganda. It's possible the group's data harvesting methods will be as unpopular abroad as they have been in the U.S.

The backdrop: The deal is between SCL and State's Global Engagement Center. The Center was set up by the Obama administration in 2016 to fight ISIS's online presence, and the deal with SCL was signed in early 2017.

  • When that deal was inked, SCL and Cambridge Analytica had just helped orchestrate a massive upset in the 2016 presidential election, and were viewed as power players in data analytics.
  • On Sunday — more than a year after State Department deal — the New York Times reported that SCL had harvested data from user quizzes and misled users about how that data would be used.

A State Department official confirmed that SCL works with the Global Engagement Center "in connection with our mission to counter terrorist propaganda and disinformation overseas." The official stressed that the GEC is not doing business with Cambridge Analytica and that SCL is a major firm in analytics that has done work for several government agencies.

Go deeper

New York prepares for staff shortages from health vaccine mandate

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul during a news conference Tuesday in New York City.. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Saturday she would declare a state of emergency if there were health worker shortages due to New York's upcoming COVID-19 vaccine mandate.

Why it matters: Hochul moved to reassure concerns of staffing shortages in the health care sector in a statement that also outlined plans to call in medically trained National Guard members, workers from outside New York and retirees if necessary when the mandate takes effect Monday.

California to remove word "alien" from state laws

Gov. Gavin Newsom during a September news conference in Oakland, California. Photo: Jane Tyska/Digital First Media/East Bay Times via Getty Images

California is removing the word "alien" from its state laws and replacing it with words such as "noncitizen" and "immigrant," Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced.

Why it matters: The word "alien" began to be used in the 1990s "as a political dog whistle to express bigotry and hatred without using traditionally racist language," per a statement from Newsom's office.

6 hours ago - Health

Axios AM Deep Dive: Covid forever

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was 563 days ago that the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by healthcare reporter Caitlin Owens, looks at our Covid future.