Cambridge Analytica shuts operations, may resurface under different name

Cambridge Analytica, the U.K.-based political consulting firm at the center of Facebook controversy involving the improper gathering of data during the 2016 presidential election, is closing its doors effective immediately.

The company’s parent, SCL Group, will also cease all business operations.

According to a statement posted on the firm’s website Wednesday, Cambridge rebuked its critics, defended its actions, but revealed the loss of clients had forced the firm to begin insolvency proceedings.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers.  As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the Company into administration,” read Cambridge Analytica’s press release.

The news release also noted an outside counsel’s probe of allegations leveled against the firm were “not borne out by the facts” gathered during the independent investigation.

Established in 2012 as a offshoot of parent SLC Group, the firm eventually retained dozens of global political candidates as clients and became involved in 10 political campaigns, including Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential bid and the Brexit referendum.

In mid-March, reports emerged the firm had collected personally identifiable information on up to 87 million Facebook users.

According to investigators, Cambridge successfully obtained personal data through a Facebook quiz app which required users to submit personal data.  The data collected was later allegedly sold to Cambridge which used the information to create political profiles for use in elections.

Following the revelations, a former Cambridge employee-turned-whistlebower, Christopher Wylie, provided media sources with documents outlining how the firm had obtained the private data for the sole purpose of creating targeted political campaigns in several elections.

Wylie’s cooperation with investigative journalists inspired full-fledged inquiries in the U.K. and U.S. and led to the suspension of Cambridge’s chief executive, Alexander Nix.

U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office announced Thursday it will continue investigating Cambridge and target its former executives, as well as “closely monitor any successor companies.” 

According to a report by the New York Times, one such legacy firm already in operation, Emerdata, which currently has at least four directors with ties to Cambridge, may be a vehicle used to “rebrand” the now defunct data company.

 

[Reuters] [Business Insider] [The Register] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via The Intercept]