Cambridge Analytica closes but investigators will continue public safeguarding mission

Cambridge Analytica Facebook

Cambridge Analytica yesterday announced an immediate shutdown and liquidation of its business.

The company filed applications to commence insolvency proceedings in the UK, immediately ceasing all operations and the boards have applied to appoint insolvency practitioners Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP to act as the independent administrator for Cambridge Analytica.

In light of those accusations, noted Queen’s Counsel Julian Malins was retained to conduct an independent investigation into the allegations regarding the Company’s political activities.

Malins report, concluded that the allegations were not “borne out by the facts.” Regarding the conclusions set forth in his report.

Mr. Malins stated: “I had full access to all members of staff and documents in the preparation of my report.  My findings entirely reflect the amazement of the staff, on watching the television programmes and reading the sensationalistic reporting, that any of these media outlets could have been talking about the company for which they worked.

“Nothing of what they heard or read resonated with what they actually did for a living.”

Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said it will keep investigating accusations that Cambridge Analytica scraped data from 87 million Facebook accounts and weaponised it during political campaigns, including the 2016 US election.

An ICO spokesperson said: “The ICO has been investigating the SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica as part of a wider investigation into the use of personal data and analytics by political campaigns, social media companies and others. We will be examining closely the details of the announcements of the winding down of Cambridge Analytica and the status of its parent company.

“The ICO will continue its civil and criminal investigations and will seek to pursue individuals and directors, as appropriate and necessary even where companies may no longer be operating. We will also monitor closely any successor companies using our powers to audit and inspect, to ensure the public is safeguarded.”

Social media reaction

Analysis: Herb Kim, CEO of Thinking Digital

It’s not surprising to hear that Cambridge Analytica have shut down. If anything I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. The company is now recognised the world over for all the wrong reasons. The ICO will continue its investigation into Cambridge Analytica which seems entirely appropriate.

While Cambridge Analytica may have played some role in the Trump and Brexit results, overall my hope is that this scandal will be a catalyst for positive change in the tech industry. Facebook, Google and the other major tech platforms need to understand their impact on our society and change their behaviour accordingly. Failure to do so will ultimately result in regulation and legislation that are often very blunt instruments. We will all benefit from prevention over invasive legal surgery.

Danny Cox, Hargreaves Lansdown

The closure of Cambridge Analytica shows the importance and value of reputation and how quickly it can evaporate along with your customer base. Regardless of how much good will a business has behind it, the nature of the allegations and investigations make it impossible for businesses to continue to use their services or be associated with them and it’s understandable they are distancing themselves as fast as they can.

Being the right side of the law doesn’t matter, it’s the perception of whether you are doing the right thing which is important in reputation management