LONDON—Cambridge Analytica has been found guilty of breaking data laws after refusing to disclose how much information it holds on an American professor, where it got the data, and—perhaps most importantly—how it used it and who it gave it to.
The British analytics firm, which was hired by the Trump campaign, has been accused of misusing the Facebook data of almost 100 million Americans while working to elect President Trump.
Prof. David Carroll, at the Parsons School of Design in New York, filed a formal request to see what data was held on him after reading about Cambridge Analytica’s role in the 2016 presidential election. Under British data laws, companies are required to disclose what they hold on any individual who makes such a request.
SCL Elections, a parent company of Cambridge Analytica, confirmed it did have data on Carroll, including detailed metrics on his political views, specifically how he was likely to vote and which hot-button issues like gun rights or immigration would motivate him.
The existence of this predictive table suggested Cambridge Analytica must have gathered a large volume of data on the media professor, prompting Carroll to ask where it had come from and with whom it had been shared?
Facebook later admitted that Cambridge Analytica had access to personal data on up to 87 million people, mostly in the U.S. The company collapsed in 2018 after undercover reporters caught its executives bragging about electoral dirty-tricks operations, including the secret use of proxy organizations and super PACs to buy ads targeted at individuals in the U.S. that could not be traced back to the Trump campaign.
SCL Elections refused to provide further information to Carroll, claiming that because he was American, and outside British jurisdiction, he had no more right to the data “than a member of the Taliban sitting in a cave in the remotest corner of Afghanistan.” CONTINUE: Trump Campaign Consultants Cambridge Analytica Found Guilty of Breaking Data Laws