The parent firm of Cambridge Analytica, SCL Elections Ltd, has been hit with a fresh fine of £15,000 (€16,500) including costs, for failing to comply with an enforcement notice delivered by the UK’s data protection authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The firm had been ordered to respond to a request to hand over the personal data belonging to a US citizen, Prof David Carroll.
“This prosecution, the first against Cambridge Analytica, is a warning that there are consequences for ignoring the law,” ICO Chief Elizabeth Denham said in a statement on Wednesday (9 December).
“Organisations that handle personal data must respect people’s legal privacy rights. Where that does not happen and companies ignore ICO enforcement notices, we will take action.”
In early 2017, Carroll had made a request to obtain his personal data from SCL. After the company failed to respond, the American made a complaint to the ICO to intervene, after he was informed by SCL that he had no right to access his personal data.
Carroll’s lawyer, Ravi Naik, said on Wednesday that Carroll has been “vindicated” by the ICO’s decision, but that there is “so much more to come,” hinting that further work needs to be carried out in order to find out whether SCL have acted improperly with regards to the management of US voter data.
This week’s penalty comes after the ICO hit Facebook with a £500,000 (€565,000) fine for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal under the 1998 Data Protection Act in October.
In March 2018, several media outlets reported that Cambridge Analytica had obtained the personal data of around 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge. Around 2.7 million of those users were EU-based. Later in the year, the company filed for insolvency proceedings and went into administration.
Crowe UK, the administrators for SCL, struck a conciliatory tone on behalf of their client on Wednesday.
A statement from Crowe UK read that SCL “pleaded guilty to the failure to comply with the enforcement notice whilst raising mitigating circumstances. The administrators confirmed that there are ongoing investigative matters, and have and will continue to fully co-operate with the ICO regarding the company.”