A three-year investigation by the British Information Commissioner into the activities of Cambridge Analytica has shown that the controversial company was not involved in the EU referendum.
The results show that neither the company nor its parent company SCL misused data to influence the Brexit referendum. Even in the initial phase of the UKIP vote, initial inquiries were made, but they did not go any further.
“I have not found any material breaches of data protection and electronic marketing regulations or data protection laws that have reached the threshold for formal regulatory action,” said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham in a report to Parliament’s Culture and Media Commission
She added that her team failed to link the company to Russian intervention in British politics. Previous work had found evidence of a Russian IP address associated with an SCL source. However, Denham noted that Russian interference in the EU referendum was beyond the scope of her office.
The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) noted that the company had poor data practices “which, if they tried to continue trading, would likely have drawn further regulatory action against them from my office,” Denham said in the ICO report.
Cambridge Analytica ceased trading in May 2018, mainly due to the aftermath of the data abuse scandal and subsequent investigation.
The report also mentioned Global Science Research (GSR), a company led by Dr. Aleksander Kogan, who developed the app the company uses to collect information. “During my investigation, data was found in various locations without thinking about effective security measures, which appear to have come from GSR and SCL / CA,” Denham said.
“Data has also been found on servers and appears to have been shared with a number of parties, including evidence that data was shared with employees of SCL / CA, Eunoia Technologies Inc, the University of Cambridge and the University of Toronto,” she said added.
The ICO investigation used materials seized from the company’s headquarters during a high-profile search in 2018.
Cambridge Analytica has been accused of collecting data from millions of Facebook users without their consent. At one point, the company’s CEO Alexander Nix claimed that the company had up to 5,000 data points from every adult in the US.
The ICO found that both SCL and Cambridge Analytica contributed by purchasing commercially available personal data, potentially over 130 billion data points.
Using this data, the company provided an analysis of the voting behavior of the population and delivered the information to political groups to create targeted advertising.
The company was hired during the 2016 US election by organizations linked to the campaigns of President Donald Trump and his then Republican rival Ted Cruz.
The investigation resulted in fines against Facebook and the campaign groups Vote Leave and Leave.EU. Facebook was fined £ 500,000 while Vote Leave and Leave.EU were fined £ 40,000 and £ 15,000, respectively.