The UK Information Commissioner's Office has told Cambridge Analytica's parent company SCL Elections to comply with an academic's data request, or else.
US-based boffin Professor David Carroll, of the Parsons School of Design in New York, had filed a subject access request (SAR) in the UK, because American law didn't give him any way to get Cambridge Analytica's owner to disgorge the information it holds about him.
His access to the watchdog's jurisdiction arose because Carroll's data had been processed by Cambridge Analytica in the UK.
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The company provided only limited information. The enforcement notice (PDF) sent to SCL Elections explained that as well as believing Cambridge Analytica had held back information, there was not an “an adequate explanation of where the data had been obtained from or how it would be used.”
Cambridge Analytica fobbed off this request for more detail, which led to the watchdog's deliberation that concluded on Saturday.
Cambridge Analytica had also tried to deny the regulator's jurisdiction.
The Commissioner doesn't agree, and warned that failure to comply with the order “is a criminal offence, punishable in the courts by an unlimited fine.”
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham added that the company's decision to close down and re-emerge under another name won't give it an out: “We are aware of recent media reports concerning Cambridge Analytica’s future but whether or not the people behind the company decide to fold their operation, a continued refusal to engage with the ICO will potentially breach an Enforcement Notice and that then becomes a criminal matter.”
Carroll told The Guardian “This should solve a lot of mysteries about what the company did with data and where it got it from”, adding that the data could assist investigations in the US and Canada. ®