UK Watchdog Orders Cambridge Analytica to Disclose Data or Face Prosecution


The order comes in the wake of the controversy over data leaks regarding online privacy forced the company to cease its operations and file for insolvency in the United States and Britain.

Analysts are of the opinion that the new case, file by a US professor, could result in imposing criminal penalties ad could also have broad privacy implications.

In January 2017, US-based academic David Carroll came to know that is personal information had been processed in the UK by Cambridge Analytica (CA) and filed a notice for Subject Access Request (SAR) asking the consulting firm about how much information it had gathered on him. At first, the consulting firm dismissed his request by stating that he is not a citizen of the US and that he had no rights on obtaining the information.

Then in March 2017, SCL Group and CA, responded to is SAR request but Carroll was not satisfied with the data claiming that it was only partial. The data ranked his interests based on a selection of few topics including his opinions on healthcare, immigration, gun rights and education and environment. However, CA did not explain how the scores had been calculated.

Not happy with the response given by CA, Carroll appealed the ICO and had not made it clear about how much information had been collected on him and how it was obtained by the company. The ICO strongly disagreed with CA asked the consulting firm to disclose all the information it had on Carroll and after the company failed to adhere, the Office issued a notice to revel the information within 30 days or be ready to face unlimited fine.

Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in a statement, “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”.

She also said that knowing about the personal data that an organization holds on anyone is the cornerstone right when it comes to the laws of data protection. She further added that Professor Carroll or any other members of the public have the right to understand what data CA has held on them and how they analyzed it. The report would answer a lot of questions about how CA got the data and what did with it.