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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

UK authorities to continue probe despite Cambridge Analytica bankruptcy

Cambridge Analytica announced on Wednesday that it was filing for bankruptcy following allegations that it improperly harvested data from millions of Facebook users.

world Updated: May 03, 2018 20:05 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Cambridge Analytica said bad publicity in the aftermath of data breach allegations drove potential clients away.
Cambridge Analytica said bad publicity in the aftermath of data breach allegations drove potential clients away.(Reuters/File Photo)

After controversial firm Cambridge Analytica announced its closure on Wednesday, Britain’s information commissioner’s office (ICO) confirmed that ongoing investigations into its alleged harvesting of data from millions of Facebook users will not stop.

The company, whose activities in consulting on political campaigns in India, the US and elsewhere hit the headlines in March, is also the focus of an investigation by the UK Parliament’s committee for digital, culture, media and sport.

Committee chairman Damian Collins tweeted after the closure announcement: “Cambridge Analytica and (parent company) SCL Group cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing. The investigations into their work are vital.”

He told BBC: “We’ve got to make sure this isn’t an attempt to run and hide, that these companies are not closing down to try to avoid them being rigorously investigated over the allegations that are being made against them.”

Collins is also set to testify via videolink as part of Canada’s investigation into Cambridge Analytica and Facebook.

An ICO spokesperson said the office is investigating SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica as part of a wider probe into the use of personal data and analytics by political campaigns, social media companies and others.

“We will be examining closely the details of the announcements of the winding down of Cambridge Analytica and the status of its parent company. The ICO will continue its civil and criminal investigations and will seek to pursue individuals and directors, as appropriate and necessary, even where companies may no longer be operating.

“We will also monitor closely any successor companies using our powers to audit and inspect, to ensure the public is safeguarded.”

Cambridge Analytica announced on Wednesday it will begin bankruptcy proceedings after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees because of the scandal over reports that it harvested personal data from 87 million Facebook users beginning in 2014. The firm was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 US election campaign.

First Published: May 03, 2018 13:54 IST