In the UK, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has served a legal notice on Cambridge Analytica agent SCL Elections Ltd, ordering it to give US-based academic Professor David Carroll all the personal information the company holds about him.
Last week, Cambridge Analytica declared bankruptcy, amid claims that it illegally harvested data from more than 87 million Facebook profiles to target users with political ads. In a statement, ICO said that while it is aware of reports concerning Cambridge Analytica's future, whether or not the people behind the company decide to fold their operation, a continued refusal to engage with ICO will potentially breach an 'Enforcement Notice' and that becomes a criminal matter.
Professor Carroll (pictured) submitted a SAR (subject access request) to Cambridge Analytica on 10th January 2017 and received a reply from an e-mail address at SCL Group informing him to submit a £10 fee and proof of identity to SCL Elections Ltd, which was said to be Cambridge Analytica's agent. He forwarded the fee on 27th March 2017, then received a spreadsheet from the SCL Group, marked for and on behalf of Cambridge Analytica and which was said to contain all the personal data to which he was legally entitled.
However, as Professor Carroll was not satisfied that he had been given all the personal data held about him, nor an adequate explanation of where it had been obtained from or how it would be used, he complained to the ICO, which subsequently wrote to the data controller sharing his concerns. The company's reply refused to address the ICO's questions and incorrectly stated Professor Carroll had no legal entitlement to it because he wasn't a UK citizen or based in this country.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham explains: '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'.
Web site: www.ico.org.uk .
All articles 2006-18 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas.