The company at the heart of the Facebook data privacy scandal has announced that it will be closing its doors due to “the damage caused to the business by the unfairly negative media coverage” surrounding its role in the misuse of Facebook user data.
Back in March, Cambridge Analytica came under fire from the likes of Channel 4, the Guardian, and The New York Times after a former employee revealed that the company had harvested the profiles of what is now known to be around 87m people. It is believed this data was used to target US voters during the presidential election and may have also used for political purposes in the UK.
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica claims that it “has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas”. An interesting statement which will likely be proven true as Facebook digs into other similar firms, but one that suggests the company isn’t taking accountability for how its actions may not have been right – legal or not.
According to Cambridge Analytica, these allegations have “driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers” and have left it with no option but to place the company in administration and file for bankruptcy.
These bankruptcy proceedings have been filed in UK and will soon be followed by similar proceedings in the US.
Despite Cambridge Analytica’s decision to shut up shop, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that the ongoing investigation into the company will continue – and it will keep an eye out for companies borne out of the closure.
“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. We will be examining closely the details of the announcements of the winding down of Cambridge Analytica and the status of its parent company,” said an ICO spokesperson.
“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. We will also monitor closely any successor companies using our powers to audit and inspect, to ensure the public is safeguarded.”