A recent lawsuit accuses the authority for political robocalls and text messages in the U.S. of discriminating against Republican candidates, as well as having concerning ties to foreign governments.
In 2019 and 2020, Congress imposed strict regulations on robocalls and other forms of political messaging used in nearly every political campaign nationwide; however, it did not mandate the FCC or a comparable government entity enforce these news laws. As a result, the phone carriers provided a government-sanctioned monopoly to a third-party company called The Campaign Registry to do this vetting. It contracts much of its message vetting to a private company, Aegis Mobile.
In September, Williams Peters, the co-founder of The Campaign Registry, filed a lawsuit against Kaleyra, now The Campaign Registry’s parent company. His suit alleges that, after Kaleyra acquired the company and while Peters served as the Vice President of Finance, The Campaign Registry tried to actively stop the campaign messages of certain Republican candidates. The alleged acts include successfully halting Kari Lake’s Arizona governor campaign’s messages for two weeks in September 2022.
“When Mr. Peters and others learned what was happening, Mr. Peters asked [TCR Operations Head Ricardo Covero] to report what he had learned to Campaign Registry management, specifically to Soren Schafft (TCR CEO), Tor Soevik (TCR COO), Stefan Heller (TCR VP Business Development) and Michael Ford (TCR VP Operations),” the suit reads. “They told Mr. Cavero to let it go and not do anything. Mr. Peters reported this to the FBI through his attorney in September 2022 and by direct interview in Washington, DC on October 20, 2022.”
Peters’ suit also alleges that Kaleyra refused to seek review by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States regarding its ownership of The Campaign Registry. CFIUS is chaired by the U.S. Treasury Secretary and reviews foreign investments in the United States.
According to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, Kaleyra-GigCapital has Chinese investors, including Hong Kong Permanent Shine Limited and Y Intercept Hong Kong Ltd. This raises questions about the company’s ties to China and the Chinese Communist Party’s potential ability to obtain the sensitive personal information of U.S. candidates and their affiliated campaigns, staff, donors, and supporters.
According to Peters’ lawsuit, Telecommunications Company Repatriation, a U.S. entity that seeks to return “critical and essential telecommunications and Internet services that have been acquired, in whole or in part, by China and other foreign entities that intend to usurp U.S. technology for their own commercial and political benefit,” published an open letter expressing concern about The Campaign Registry’s foreign ownership.
“To this date, Kaleyra has refused to answer two very critical questions: What percentage of your company is owned, directly or indirectly, by individuals or entities associated with the People’s Republic of China? And, do Chinese nationals and other foreign entities have access, direct or indirect, to the Campaign Registry’s critical infrastructure and customer data?,” the letter states, according to Peters’ suit. “TCR Acquisition believes that Kaleyra refuses to respond because the answer to both questions is ‘yes.’”
This comes on the heels of multiple reports demonstrating China’s growing attempts to influence the American political system and conduct potential privacy and national security-compromising espionage against the United States.
China has implemented a policy known as Military-Civil Fusion, which stipulates that every company operating within its borders must hand over data and information deemed beneficial for advancing the Chinese Communist Party’s interests.
Adding to potential concerns about this potential Chinese influence and data collection vacuum is that Aegis Mobile, the company that The Campaign Registry contracts with for political vetting, has a checkered history of facing regulatory ire regarding its data collection practices.
In 2013-2014, Aegis faced Federal Trade Commission litigation for allegedly failing to comply with government subpoenas. Moreover, in 2020, the FCC also severely criticized Aegis Mobile (then a quality control contractor for Verizon) for failing to implement adequate vetting procedures or provide transparency to the FCC following the disclosure of Verizon customers’ location data to a third party without its consent.
Breitbart News has reached out to Kaleyra for comment.
The case is Peters v. Kaleyra, Inc., 1:23-cv-01051-UNA in the United States District Court for the District of Delaware.
Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. He is the author of #DELETED: Big Tech’s Battle to Erase the Trump Movement and Steal The Election.