- Information Commissioner’s Office
- Britain’s information commissioner says she’s seeking a warrant to raid Cambridge Analytica and seize its servers.
- She had already announced an investigation into the matter.
- Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica’s account on Friday evening, saying that it improperly used personal information obtained from users.
- Cambridge Analytica has come under fire for its role in helping President Donald Trump’s campaign target Facebook ads towards prospective voters.
Elizabeth Denham, Britain’s information commissioner, told the UK’s Channel 4 News that she plans to apply for a warrant to raid the offices of controversial political research company Cambridge Analytica and seize its servers.
The news comes after Channel 4 ran an exposé on Cambridge Analytica, where the firm’s CEO was secretly filmed offering to entrap politicians with bribes and sex workers on behalf of a client.
That report, in turn, came just days after CA was suspended from Facebook over a data incident in which it collected information on around 50 million US voters without their knowledge or consent.
CA was contracted by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, and the Brexit Leave campaign, in 2016.After a whistleblower came forward and as The Guardian and The New York Times were preparing to publish exposés, Facebook said on Friday that the data it used for ad targeting was improperly obtained and shut it down.
The Guardian’s Carole Cadwalladr, who has led much of the reporting on Cambridge Analytica, reported on Twitter that the ICO has tried to obtain a warrant on Monday evening (UK time) but has been unable to find a judge to grant it.
Facebook’s own investigators, forensics firm Stroz Friedberg, were also at Cambridge Analytica’s London offices on Monday night – before the ICO. In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider their auditors “stood down” after the ICO requested as much.
On Saturday, Denham first announced the opening of an investigation into CA, as well as other firms that use personal information to target ads on Facebook and other social media platforms. CA operates in the UK, but is headquartered in the United States.
Here’s the current statement on the situation from Denham, via the Information Commissioner’s Office:
“A full understanding of the facts, data flows and data uses is imperative for my ongoing investigation. This includes any new information, statements or evidence that have come to light in recent days.
“Our investigation into the use of personal data for political campaigns, includes the acquisition and use of Facebook data by SCL, Doctor Kogan and Cambridge Analytica.
“This is a complex and far reaching investigation for my office and any criminal or civil enforcement actions arising from it will be pursued vigorously.”