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Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data in EU referendum, says UK Information Commission

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The UK Information Commission has concluded, after its three-year investigation into Cambridge Analytica, that it did not misuse data to influence the Brexit referendum. This conclusion was arrived at after the ICO processed more than 700 terabytes of data seized from Cambridge Analytica’s London offices under warrant in 2018.

This three-year probe by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office is the largest ever of its type.  ever undertaken by such an organisation. When speaking of the ICO’s final conclusion, Elizabeth Denham who is the Information Commissioner has told a parliamentary select committee that “on examination, the methods that SCL were using, were in the main, well-recognised processes using commonly available technology”. 

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The ICO was asked to broaden its investigation types into the use of personal data for political purposes in 2017. This request was made following a request from the US academic David Carroll. Mr Carroll stated that it was important to better understand how his personal data was being used for microtargeting purposes in the US 2016 election campaign.

Alex Tayler who was the chief data officer at Cambridge Analytica has said: “All the former staff of the company have had their reputations unfairly tarnished and these findings will be some comfort to them as they move on with their lives”. 

The ICO concluded that the company’s widely cited claim that it had more than “5,000 data points per individual on 230m adult Americans” was more than likely an exaggeration. Mr Carroll has reacted to the findings by tweeting that the findings distract “from regulatory crises to enforce laws on the books”.

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