For Professor David Carroll, it was no surprise to hear about Cambridge Analytica’s data scandal. Almost a year prior to the scandal becoming public, he had made a data request under U.K. law to access all of the personal data that Cambridge Analytica had on him. The professor is from the U.S., and had suspicions on the company’s ability to create psychographic profiles of American voters, according to TechCrunch. At the time, Carroll was unsatisfied with the data that the company had provided, and so made a formal request through U.K. law.
Now, the Information Commissioner’s Office, which is a U.K. data watchdog, has stepped in. They have threatened Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, SCL Elections Ltd., with criminal prosecution unless they provide all of the available data on the professor. They stated that “Failure to [comply] is a criminal offence, punishable in the courts by an unlimited fine.”
ICO’s actions could be later translated into a class action suit of all of the Americans whose data was misused by Cambridge Analytica.
This demand by ICO is likely to be taken seriously by the company, considering that ICO was the one that obtained the warrant to search the Cambridge Analytica offices. ICO is also reportedly investigating 30 organizations in total, as their investigation isn’t limited to just Cambridge Analytica.
Interestingly, when making the demand for the professor’s data, ICO said that if they were having difficulties finding the data to release, that Cambridge Analytica could reveal their passwords to their seized servers. This makes people believe ICO may not have been able to access as much information as previously believed.
— lusirusi (@lusirusi3) May 6, 2018
Professor David Carroll is an associate professor of Media Design at Parsons School of Design. He made the information request from Cambridge Analytica when he learned that the company had gathered information on him.
The type of data that Carroll suspected the company had on him included a psychographic profile of him, which would offer potentially intimate insights into his personality, attitudes, and even values, described CNN. The information can predict people’s behaviors and make inferences on personal information that even close acquaintances may not know about someone.
The Huffington Post called this demand by ICO “ground-breaking,” and believes that it offers a pathway for all Facebook users that were affected to file a lawsuit in U.K. courts.
Cambridge Analytica recently announced that they are going bankrupt, but it appears that their troubles may be just beginning.