Trump-linked Analytics Firm Cambridge Analytica Pleads Guilty to Breaking Data Laws
Cambridge Analytica, the UK-based data analytics firm employed by the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to breaking UK data laws after it refused to disclose what information it has on an American voter.
The Daily Beast reported that Professor David Carroll of the Parsons School of Design in New York requested a copy of the data Cambridge Analytica held on him after reading about the role the analytics firm had played in the 2016 presidential elections.
Carroll received a document which included predictions about his political opinions on key issues, including gun rights and immigration. Carroll then demanded more information, including how the company had formed these predictions, where it obtained the information on which these predictions were based, and with whom the company had shared this data. However, Cambridge Analytica refused to disclose this follow-up information.
Under the UK’s Data Protection Act, companies must disclose any information held on an individual if a subject access request is submitted.
SCL Election, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica refused to comply with Mr. Carroll’s request. The firm argued that as a non-UK citizen, Carroll had no more right to request data than “a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in Afghanistan,” the Guardian reported.
Carroll then complained to the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which issued an enforcement notice forcing SCL and Cambridge Analytica to comply with Carroll’s request.
After the analytics firm continued to refuse to disclose any further data regarding Carroll’s request, it pleaded guilty to a charge of breaching the Data Protection Act in a UK court. The district judge fined the company £15,000 ($19,000).
Following the 2016 election campaign, Facebook revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested data on up to 87 million users, the majority of which were living in the United States.