By Paul Sandle and Eric Auchard
LONDON (Reuters) – Investigators from Britain’s information watchdog searched the London places of work of Cambridge Analytica, the info analytics agency on the centre of a storm over allegations it improperly harvested Fb information to focus on U.S. voters.
About 20 officers, carrying black jackets with “ICO Enforcement” on them, arrived on the agency’s central London places of work on Friday night quickly after a Excessive Courtroom decide granted a search warrant sought by the Data Commissioner’s Workplace (ICO).
The officers concluded the search round 0300 GMT on Saturday. “We are going to now must assess and contemplate the proof earlier than deciding the subsequent steps and coming to any conclusions,” an ICO spokesperson stated in an announcement.
The officers, who have been let into the constructing by safety guards, have been seen checking books and papers by way of the home windows of the second-floor places of work on London’s busy New Oxford Avenue, a Reuters witness stated.
Elizabeth Denham, head of the ICO, sought the warrant after a whistleblower stated Cambridge Analytica had gathered non-public data of 50 million Fb customers to help Donald Trump’s 2016 U.S. presidential marketing campaign.
Britain is investigating whether or not Fb, the world’s largest social media community, did sufficient to guard information.
U.S. lawmakers on Friday requested Fb Chief Govt Mark Zuckerberg to return to Congress to elucidate to elucidate how the info acquired into Cambridge Analytica’s arms, including to strain on the agency, which is beneath fireplace from buyers and advertisers.
Individually on Friday, Britain’s Guardian newspaper stated a former Cambridge Analytica political advisor had accused the corporate’s administration of deceptive the British public about work it did for a pro-Brexit group earlier than the vote to depart the European Union.
Brittany Kaiser, a enterprise improvement director on the firm from 2014 till earlier this 12 months, informed the Guardian that Cambridge Analytica carried out data-crunching and evaluation work for Depart.EU, whereas publicly denying it was doing so.
Arron Banks, a significant donor to Depart.EU, informed the newspaper that Depart.EU didn’t obtain any information or work from Cambridge Analytica though the UK Independence Celebration, which additionally campaigned for Brexit, gave the agency a few of its information which the agency analysed.
“Nevertheless it was not used within the Brexit marketing campaign. Cambridge Analytica tried to make me pay for that work however I refused. It had nothing to do with us,” Banks was quoted as saying.
Efforts by the ICO to analyze Cambridge Analytica had hit a snag on Thursday after a decide adjourned its software to look the British consultancy group’s workplace by 24 hours.
U.S. and European lawmakers have demanded an evidence of how the British consulting agency gained entry to the info in 2014 and why Fb failed to tell its customers, elevating broader trade questions on shopper privateness.
Fb’s Zuckerberg stated on Wednesday that his firm made errors in mishandling information and promised more durable steps to limit builders entry to information.
(Extra reporting by Georgina Prodhan and William Schomberg in London and Philip George in Bengaluru; Modifying by Adrian Croft, Catherine Evans and Mark Potter)