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Cambridge Analytica closure will not halt probe, says ICO

The London-based data mining firm at the heart of the Facebook data exploitation scandal has announced it is closing, but the ICO says the probe into its actions will still go ahead

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) intends to go ahead with plans to investigate Cambridge Analytica despite the firm’s announcement that it is closing due to lack of business.

Cambridge Analytica announced that it was ceasing all operations immediately because it is “no longer viable to continue operating the business” in the wake of the data exploitation scandal that erupted over the use of Facebook user data, the company said in a statement.

The company said it had been the subject of “numerous unfounded accusations” and “vilified for activities that are legal”.

The company said an independent investigation by Queen’s Counsel Julian Malins into the allegations regarding the company’s political activities concluded that the allegations were not “borne out by the facts”.

Despite Cambridge Analytica’s “unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully, which is a view now fully supported by Mr. Malins’ report, the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers,” the company said.

Cambridge Analytica is one of 30 companies the ICO is investigating regarding their data exploitation practices, particularly with regard to political campaigns.

The ICO said its investigation will still “pursue individuals and directors” as necessary, while Damian Collins, chair of the House of Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), told the BBC that it is essential to ensure the closure is not an attempt to avoid rigorous investigation.

According to Facebook, data of around up to 87 million of its members, including nearly 1.1 million Britons, was harvested by a quiz app and then passed on to the Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of analysing the data for use by political campaigns ahead of the 2016 US presidential election and UK referendum on Brexit.

Read more about Facebook and privacy

Read more on Privacy and data protection

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