In the second episode of the fifth season of House of Cards, Aidan Macallan caused a massive panic across the Washington, D.C. area in his quest to delete some files and cover his tracks. So what kind of files did Aidan set out to delete, exactly, and for what reason?
The files Aidan Macallan was deleting had to do with the Underwood Administration’s illegal use of domestic surveillance. You’ll recall that in Season 4, Underwood authorized domestic surveillance of American citizens, ostensibly for terror-related reasons but in reality so that he could gain an upper hand in the election.
The Underwoods made use of this domestic surveillance to help them in the election a number of times. For example, in Season 4, Aiden delivers 250,000 names, emails and phone numbers of voters, and the Underwood campaign subsequently targets these people for an anti-gun robocall. Aidan also uses his data to see how specific words are tracking with voters during a debate. It’s implied that Aidan is able to tap into individual phone calls, although we never see him do this in the series.
Aidan insisted to the Underwoods last season that there would be no way they’d be found out, as the algorithm he was using to spy on Americans was the same algorithm that would be used to fight ICO, and it’s just that the inputs are different.
However, after the hostage crisis at the end of Season 4, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security took over the domestic surveillance system. Aidan instantly became nervous, and in Season 5, when auditors began looking into Aidan’s files and were presumably on the brink of discovering what the algorithm was really being used for, Aidan ensured that these files would be deleted.
Of course, Aidan’s actions in the second episode of the season also allowed the Underwoods to pretend that ICO had carried out a cyberattack, therefore justifying their calls for increased security nationwide.