Christopher Wylie, the data scientist who blew the whistle on Facebook’s giant Cambridge Analytica data breach, has been named as the most influential person in the British tech industry by Business Insider.
Wylie topped Business Insider’s annual Tech 100 ranking, a prestigious list of the 100 coolest and most groundbreaking people in the UK tech industry over the past 12 months.
The whistleblower landed the number one spot after revealing that political consultancy Cambridge Analytica weaponised the data of 50 million Facebook users during the 2016 US presidential election.
The revelation thrust Facebook into a tsunami of scandal, wiping $60 billion off the company’s value and forcing CEO Mark Zuckerberg into a media apology tour, which evolved into a global advertising campaign. It sent shockwaves through the tech world, with other big companies being swept up in data scandals of their own.
Speaking to Business Insider, Wylie said his life has completely transformed since exposing Facebook’s secret. He has become a target for abuse since becoming embroiled in the Brexit debate, including being pushed in front of traffic and being followed into gay clubs by alt-right bloggers.
Business Insider’s executive editor Jake Kanter said:
“Christopher Wylie has changed the global debate around privacy and helped people realise the power companies like Facebook have over our data. His brave decision to blow the whistle will help make tech giants more accountable, and that can only be a good thing. He fully deserves his place at the top of Business Insider’s Tech 100.”
Others featured on the Tech 100 list include Game of Thrones actress Maisie Williams, Deliveroo CEO Will Shu, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, and Anne-Marie Imafidon, who is helping to attract a new generation of women to the tech industry.
Many of those featured, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, will attend a party in celebration of the ranking at Searcys at The Gherkin on October 4.
The Tech 100 top 10
Christopher Wylie, Facebook whistleblower
Will Shu, CEO, Deliveroo
Dr Demis Hassabis, Mustafa Suleyman and Dr Shane Legg, Deepmind
Samir Desai, CEO, Funding Circle
Anne Boden, CEO, Starling Bank
Herman Narula and Rob Whitehead, cofounders, Improbable
Maria Raga, CEO, Depop
Tom Blomfield, CEO, Monzo
Stan Boland, CEO, Five AI
Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon, CEO, Stemettes