Cambridge Analytica, the company at the centre of last year’s data scandal, is to go on trial accused of ignoring a Data Protection Act enforcement notice.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) says the controversial election consultancy failed to comply with a legal notice ordering it to respond to a subject access request submitted by US-based academic professor David Carroll in 2017.
The trial is due to begin at Hendon Magistrates’ Court tomorrow (Wednesday, January 9).
Proceedings earlier began on October 3, when the company entered a not guilty plea.
Professor Carroll had asked for copies of all the personal information Cambridge Analytica held relating to him, along with an explanation as to the source of the data and its usage by the company.
After being dissatisfied with the response from Cambridge Analytica, Professor Carroll complained to the ICO.
The ICO said Cambridge Analytica subsequently refused to address its questions and “incorrectly” argued that Professor Carroll had no legal entitlement to information because he wasn’t a UK citizen or based in that country.
A legal notice to comply with the data request was served on SCL Elections Ltd – part of the SCL Group, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica – in May 2018.
When the terms of notice were not complied with by the deadline of June 3, the ICO decided to pursue criminal proceedings.
Last year it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica used personal information harvested from 87 million Facebook accounts.
An app called This Is Your Digital Life harvested the users’ data, which was then obtained by the consultancy and used to build an algorithm delivering targeted political adverts based on the user’s psychological profile.
The ICO later fined Facebook £500,000 for breaches of the Data Protection Act following a wide-ranging investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.
Facebook said it would lodge an appeal against the fine.
Cambridge Analytica and SCL Elections Ltd have since stopped trading and gone into administration.
- Press Association