NEWS9 May 2018

ICO tells SCL to turn over user’s data

Data analytics Legal News North America Privacy UK

UK – The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has ordered SCL Elections, Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, to hand over all the data it holds on an American academic.

Lock representing data privacy

The regulator served an enforcement notice on the company following a subject access request (SAR) submitted by Professor David Carroll under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1988. If the company fails to supply the information within 30 days, it could face an unlimited fine.

Professor Carroll submitted the request to Cambridge Analytica in January 2017, and in March 2017 he was sent a spreadsheet containing personal data from SCL Group, marked for and on behalf of Cambridge Analytica, which was said to contain the personal data he was legally entitled to.

However, he later complained to the ICO as he felt he had not been given an adequate explanation of how the data had been obtained or how it would be used, and also was not satisfied that he had been given all of the personal information held about him.

Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner, said: "The company has refused to answer our specific enquiries in relation to the complainant’s personal data – 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."

Cambridge Analytica announced last week that it was filing for insolvency, but the ICO stated that a failure to comply with the legal notice will lead to the issue becoming "a criminal matter".

Cambridge Analytica has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the way it handled personal data, following reports the company allegedly harvested data from millions of Facebook users for political purposes.