The UK’s data regulator is not letting Cambridge Analytica get off scot-free.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has waded into the next chapter of the unrelenting Cambridge Analytica drama. This time, the ICO has served the firm’s affiliate company with a legal notice ordering it to hand over all the data it holds on one U.S.-based voter.
London-based SCL Elections Ltd has been given 30 days to comply with a “subject access request” submitted by Professor David Carroll, a media design professor at Parsons School of Design in New York City, “under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998.” If SCL doesn’t cooperate with this request, it’ll find itself in deep trouble. “Failure to do so is a criminal offence, punishable in the courts by an unlimited fine,” reads a statement on the ICO website.
When Carroll first submitted his request in January 2017—in which he asked for a copy of all his data held by Cambridge Analytica—he was asked to submit a £10 fee, along with proof of identity. Following this, he was sent a spreadsheet “said to contain all of the personal data to which he was legally entitled.”
Carroll was “not satisfied” that he’d receive all the data about him held by Cambridge Analytica, so he enlisted the ICO’s help. “The company’s reply refused to address the ICO’s questions and incorrectly stated Prof Carroll had no legal entitlement to it because he wasn’t a UK citizen or based in this country,” reads the statement. “The ICO reiterated this was not legally correct in a letter to SCL the following month.”
In a statement, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said the firm has “consistently refused to co-operate” with their investigation into this case, and has “refused to answer” specific questions about Carroll’s personal data. Questions like “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,” said Denham.
Denham added that Cambridge Analytica’s “continued refusal to engage with the ICO” could “breach an Enforcement Notice” which would turn this case into a “criminal matter.”
Over to you, Cambridge Analytica.