- Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office and Electoral Commission will continue to pursue Cambridge Analytica, which shut down on Wednesday.
- The information commissioner also promised to “closely monitor any successor companies” after Cambridge Analytica executives established a mysterious new data firm.
- There are concerns, however, that investigators don’t have the tools to interrogate Cambridge Analytica properly, and some want police to step in.
Investigators have warned that they will continue to pursue Cambridge Analytica despite the controversial data firm shutting down on Wednesday.
Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it will keep investigating accusations that Cambridge Analytica scraped data from 87 million Facebook accounts and weaponised it during political campaigns, including the 2016 US election.
The ICO said it would press on even if it means going after the executives individually. In a statement, the organisation said:
“The ICO has been investigating the SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica as part of a wider investigation into the use of personal data and analytics by political campaigns, social media companies and others.
“The ICO will continue its civil and criminal investigations and will seek to pursue individuals and directors as appropriate and necessary even where companies may no longer be operating.”
The ICO added that it will “closely monitor any successor companies,” countering the possibility of Cambridge Analytica could simply continue under a different name to avoid scrutiny. Business Insider has previously reported that executives behind the firm, including former CEO Alexander Nix, have already established a mysterious new data company named Emerdata.
On Wednesday, sources told The New York Times that Emerdata could be used as a “rebranding of Cambridge Analytica and the SCL Group.”
The Electoral Commission has also questioned Cambridge Analytica as part of its investigation into groups that campaigned for Britain to leave the European Union. A spokesman would not comment on Cambridge Analytica directly, but said its “investigation is ongoing, and remains ongoing, into Leave.EU and Vote Leave.”
Critics fear the ICO is ill-equipped for the investigation
The shuttering of Cambridge Analytica, however, has done little to reassure critics who fear that the ICO and Electoral Commission are ill-equipped to handle such an important investigation.
Carole Cadwalladr, the journalist who blew the lid off the Facebook data breach, is calling for a criminal investigation.
The news that Cambridge Analytica is shutting down is not some great triumph. It’s a billionaire using Britain’s insolvency laws to try & evade scrutiny – at the cost of his employees. We need a criminal investigation. And we need evidence secured. The question is how??? https://t.co/snHCyTbXUB
— Carole Cadwalladr (@carolecadwalla) May 3, 2018
Damian Collins, the chair of the British parliamentary committee investigating the data breach, said that the ICO and Electoral Commission must have unfettered access to Cambridge Analytica.
“Cambridge Analytica and SCL group cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing. The investigations into their work are vital,” he tweeted.