The UK Information Commissioner has ordered UK-based firm Cambridge Analytica to hand over all the personal information it holds about an American academic, confirming the right of people to access the personal data held about them by a UK firm. The academic initially approached Cambridge Analytica for it to explain what information it had gathered on him, and later complained to the Commissioner that the consulting firm had failed to share the entirety of its data on him nor explained how it accumulated the information it held.
Cambridge Analytica is by now well known for its involvement in the Facebook privacy scandal (which we’ve blogged about here, here and here) where it improperly collected and used the data of up to 87 million Facebook users globally. The order sets a precedent that could enable millions of others to request access to the information Cambridge Analytica collected about them and how that information was used.
The order comes just days after Cambridge Analytica and its parent SCL Elections filed for insolvency (here). The insolvency proceedings cannot be used as a shield to comply with the order (as failure to comply is a criminal offence). We’re not sure that Facebook will welcome further disclosures with each news cycle damaging its brand and encouraging regulators to intervene more forcefully.