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ICO seeks warrant to access Cambridge Analytica systems as Stroz Friedberg stands down

The Information Commissioner (ICO) is seeking an urgent warrant to obtain information and access to systems and evidence at Cambridge Analytica, the beleaguered London headquartered political data mining and analysis consultancy that stands accused of gaining unauthorised access to tens of millions of Facebook profiles to predict and influence election campaigns. Cyber consultants Stroz Friedberg, which were engaged by Facebook to audit Cambridge Analytica following allegations of data harvesting from the social media giant, has been asked to stand down at the ICO’s request.

The Information Commissioner (ICO) is seeking an urgent warrant to obtain information and access to systems and evidence at Cambridge Analytica, the beleaguered London headquartered political data mining and analysis consultancy that stands accused of gaining unauthorised access to tens of millions of Facebook profiles to predict and influence election campaigns. Cyber consultants Stroz Friedberg, which were engaged by Facebook to audit Cambridge Analytica following allegations of data harvesting from the social media giant, has been asked to stand down at the ICO’s request.

Here is the ICO’s full statement today (20 March) below:

ICO statement: investigation into data analytics for political purposes

Date

20 March 2018

Type

Statement

UPDATE: Tuesday 20 March 2018

An ICO spokesperson said:

“On 7 March, the Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham issued a Demand for Access to records and data in the hands of Cambridge Analytica.  Cambridge Analytica has not responded to the Commissioner by the deadline provided; therefore, the Information Commissioner is seeking a warrant to obtain information and access to systems and evidence related to her investigation.

“On 19 March, Facebook announced that it will stand down its search of Cambridge Analytica premises at the Information Commissioner’s request. Such a search would potentially compromise a regulatory investigation.”

UPDATE: Monday 19 March 2018

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner said:

“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.”

Saturday 17 March 2018

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner said:

“We are investigating the circumstances in which Facebook data may have been illegally acquired and used.

“It’s part of our ongoing investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes which was launched to consider how political parties and campaigns, data analytics companies and social media platforms in the UK are using and analysing people’s personal information to micro target voters.

“It is important that the public are fully aware of how information is used and shared in modern political campaigns and the potential impact on their privacy.

“We are continuing to invoke all of our powers and are pursuing a number of live lines of inquiry. Any criminal and civil enforcement actions arising from the investigation will be pursued vigorously”.

Flagging an article in Forbes called The Problem isn’t Cambridge Analytica: It’s Facebook, Cambridge Analytica has said that it is not alone in using data from social media sites to extract user information.

See also this report from the Guardian: Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach