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UK data watchdog seeks warrant to search Cambridge Analytica headquarters

The data protection watchdog also ordered the auditors hired by Facebook to stand down when they visited the Cambridge Analytica headquarters.

  • Published: March 21, 2018 10:20 AM IST

The UK Information Commissioner on Tuesday sought a court warrant to enter the London headquarters of political data analytics consultancy Cambridge Analytica that worked with Donald Trump’s election team and allegedly harvested Facebook profiles of US voters to influence their choices at the ballot box.

The data protection watchdog also ordered the auditors hired by Facebook to stand down when they visited the Cambridge Analytica headquarters.

“Independent forensic auditors from Stroz Friedberg were on site at Cambridge Analytica’s London office. At the request of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office which has announced it is pursuing a warrant to conduct its own on-site investigation, the Stroz Friedberg auditors stood down,” Facebook said in a statement on Tuesday.

An ICO spokesperson said the commission had issued a demand to access Cambridge Analytica’s records and data, according to The Guardian.

“Cambridge Analytica has not responded to the commissioner by the deadline provided. Therefore, the information commissioner is seeking a warrant to obtain information and access to systems and evidence related to her investigation,” the spokesman was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the US and the UK have called for action following the reports of the data leak of Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica.

Amy Klobuchar, a US Senator, tweeted on Monday: “This is a major breach that must be investigated. It’s clear these platforms can’t police themselves. I’ve called for more transparency & accountability for online political ads. Mark Zuckerberg needs to testify before Senate Judiciary.”

Following the data leakage of its 50 million users for alleged political purposes, Facebook suffered the biggest one-day drop of its stocks by seven per cent on Wall Street on Monday in four years, Xinhua new agency reported earlier in the day.

Cambridge Analytica received user data from a Facebook app years ago that purported to be a psychological research tool, though the firm was not authorised to have that information.

The social media giant admitted that an estimated 2,70,000 people had downloaded the app and shared their personal information with it.

  • Published Date: March 21, 2018 10:20 AM IST