UK based political consultancy Cambridge Analytica was involved in a data scandal where it collected US based Facebook users data inappropriately using a third party. The scandal was linked to Trump campaigns, and now a new development could enlightened new areas of how the company acquired and processed US citizens personal data for creating profiles on millions of voters for political targeting.

Cambridge Analytica has been served an enforcement notice by UK’s data watchdog ICO under the UK’s 1998 data protection act.The company has been enforced to give up all the data it has on US citizens within 30 days. ICO has warned the company that in case of failing to comply by the notice, legal action will be taken up against the firm as it is a criminal offence punishable offence in court with unlimited fine.

A subject access request is enrolled along with the notice which was filed in January which was filed by David Carroll who became suspicious after the company created psychographic profiles of US voters. He realised that his data has been processed in UK and though not being a UK citizen he made a test case by requesting his personal data under UK law.

Now with Carroll’s request and ICO’s notice it seems like it has opened up a possibility for millions of US voters to ask back their data from Cambridge Analytica. A drastic class action can be filed against the firm since they made offense against 240 million people which serves upto 7000 data points in the US electorate.

Carroll received his partial data from Cambridge Analytica in response to his SAR in March 2017. He was not satisfied with it thus he made a complaint with UK’s ICO in September 2017 which sent further letters from their part to Cambridge Analytica/SCL Elections.

ICO in a statement says,

“The company’s reply refused to address the ICO’s questions and incorrectly stated Prof Caroll had no legal entitlement to it because he wasn’t a UK citizen or based in this country. The ICO reiterated this was not legally correct in a letter to SCL the following month. In November 2017, the company replied, denying that the ICO had any jurisdiction or that Prof Carroll was legally entitled to his data, adding that SCL did “.. not expect to be further harassed with this sort of correspondence”.”

On behalf of ICO, Information commissioner, Elizabeth Denham says,

“The company has consistently refused to co-operate with our investigation into this case and has refused to answer our specific enquiries in relation to the complainant’s personal data — what they had, where they got it from and on what legal basis they held it.

The right to request personal data that an organisation holds about you is a cornerstone right in data protection law and it is important that Professor Carroll, and other members of the public, understand what personal data Cambridge Analytica held and how they analysed it.

We are aware of recent media reports concerning Cambridge Analytica’s future but whether or not the people behind the company decide to fold their operation, a continued refusal to engage with the ICO will potentially breach an Enforcement Notice and that then becomes a criminal matter.”

Carroll suspiciously says that Facebook cannot be the sole source of user data in such a massive scandal. He affirms that there is a whole network and host of other companies who secretly trade user data for political reasons and this involves big sums of money in it. Cambridge Analytica due to political, public and legal pressure has announced to shut its operations in US and UK.


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