By Cameron Abbott and Sarah Goegan
Cambridge Analytica, the data company embroiled in the Facebook privacy scandal, is closing down. The firm’s parent company, SCL Elections, announced that it and some of its affiliates including Cambridge Analytica had commenced insolvency proceedings in the UK, and would immediately cease all operations.
In a statement, Cambridge Analytica said it had been “vilified” and the subject of “numerous unfounded accusations” about its activities, which it says are legal and widely accepted in online advertising. It blamed negative media coverage of allegations the company improperly used the data of 87 million Facebook users (which you can read about here, here and here) for a mass exodus of clients.
Given Cambridge Analytica’s bosses were caught in a Channel 4 News sting and filmed boasting about influencing elections through fake news campaigns and similar unsavoury activities, it is difficult to feel they were treated that harshly!
Cambridge Analytica was formed in 2013 with a focus on US elections. It was hired by President Donald Trump’s election campaign, and has been credited with assisting in his election win.
We wonder if the practices of other data firms will be “exposed” in the same way. We have already seen several companies (including, of course, Facebook) make changes to their privacy policies in response to the negative publicity the affair has generated. In August 2017, some directors, officers and investors involved in Cambridge Analytica registered a new company called Emerdata Limited. One hopes that this business will have to operate without the benefit of a large database scooped from Facebook!