Cambridge Analytica shuts down amid scandal over use of Facebook data

04 May, 2018, 14:21 | Author: Lynette Payne
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Britain's Information Commissioner's Office, which is investigating SCL Group (which is not shuttering) and Cambridge Analytica as part of a wider investigation into the use of personal data and analytics in political campaigns, said it would continue its civil and criminal investigations and would pursue individuals and directors "as appropriate and necessary" and also monitor successor companies to "ensure the public is safeguarded".

Wednesday's news release announcing the decision lists only Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections, not the parent company.

The company's recently appointed CEO Julian Wheatland told staffers that the company had evaluated all options and no longer saw a way forward.

Cambridge has denied wrongdoing.

Indian officials familiar with the questioning and notices sent in the data leak matter said the ongoing probe will continue as the liability of the company existed prior to the closure announcement.

In a statement Wednesday, Facebook said, "This doesn't change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn't happen again". Cambridge Analytica claim the number of people whose data was harvested was 30 million, whilst Facebook claim this number is 87 million.

Facebook has informed the government that "only 335 people" in India were directly affected through the installation of an app and another 562,120 people were "potentially affected" as friends of those users.

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British corporate records show that Nix is also director of a company called Emerdata Ltd. that was incorporated in August 2017.

Cambridge Analytica marketed itself as a provider of consumer research, targeted advertising and other data-related services to both political and corporate clients. Facebook has over 20 crore users in India.

Per the Companies House filing, the staff includes Rebekah Mercer, the conservative donor, and daughter of billionaire hedge fund manager Robert Mercer who listed her correspondence address as the NY office space of Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica claimed that negative coverage from the press was one of the reasons that led to the firm shutting down operations. It sought information on Facebook to build psychological profiles on a large portion of the U.S. electorate, media reports said.

CA was also rocked by undercover recordings appearing to show senior figures in the company boasting about underhand tactics that could be used to entrap opposition politicians, such as bribery and sex.

According to Emerdata's Companies House record in the United Kingdom, its business involves "data processing, hosting and related activities", while Alexander Nix, the suspended CEO of CA, was appointed as a director in February, only for this to be terminated in April.

In 2014, Cambridge Analytica gained access to the Facebook data of tens of millions of people using a technique widely used during that era to collect information on Facebook users.

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