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Watchdog pursues directors

Cambridge Analytica shuts, but data probe goes on

FacebookCambridge Analytica and its directors will remain subject to an investigation despite the firm announcing last night that it is closing.

It said it was forced shut down after media publicity over its acquisition of data of up to 87 million Facebook users.

A probe into individuals and directors will continue, said the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Damian Collins, chairman of the Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) tweeted: “Cambridge Analytica and [parent company] SCL Group cannot be allowed to delete their data history by closing. The investigations into their work are vital.”

He later said: “We’ve got to make sure this isn’t an attempt to run and hide, that these companies are not closing down to try to avoid them being rigorously investigated over the allegations that are being made against them.”

Mary Creagh, Labour MP for Wakefield, tweeted: “Outrageous. Insolvency used to cover up illegality”.

Cambridge Analytica said in a statement that the media exposure had “driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers”, leaving it unable to continue trading and forcing the directors to put the company into administration.

The company was founded in 2013 as a tech-focused subsidiary of the consultancy SCL Group, a long-established business which worked on political campaigns around the world.

Attempts to use data from Facebook for the purposes of targeted political advertising turned the focus on the social network’s privacy policies.

The scandal unfolded following months of reporting by the Guardian and Observer news organisation.

Cambridge Analytica says that it did nothing wrong, and that the company has been the victim of “unfairly negative media coverage” which left it “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising.”

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