Investigation finds no evidence Cambridge Analytica colluded with Russians
By Franz Walker // Oct 16, 2020

A three-year investigation into Cambridge Analytica found no evidence that the digital marketing firm and its associate company SCL misused data or colluded with Russia to intervene in any political process.


The probe by the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) was described by the authority as the largest it had ever undertaken.

Dissolved in 2018, the SCL had group links to Cambridge Analytica. Both companies had been accused by digital rights campaigners and whistleblowers of illegally harvesting personal data that they supposedly used to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election as well as the Brexit referendum.

No further evidence of Russian involvement found

Talking to a select committee of U.K. parliament on Friday, Oct 9, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that “on examination, the methods that the SCL group were using, were in the main, well-recognized processes using commonly available technology.”

In its findings, the ICO explained that it had found a Russian IP address – a digital identifier that can show where a person is accessing the internet from – in data connected to Cambridge University where SCL drew its information. This agency later forwarded this information to the National Crime Authority as investigating it was outside the ICO’s remit.

Beyond this Russian IP address, however, the ICO found no further evidence of Russian involvement during the analysis of material obtained from SCL and Cambridge Analytica’s servers.

Scale of Cambridge Analytica’s data exaggerated

The ICO’s investigation into Cambridge Analytica and the SCL group, on the other hand, came after David Carroll, an associate professor of media design at New York’s Parsons School for Design, made a request to the agency in 2017.

Back then, Carroll made the request to better understand how the companies were using his personal data to profile him for microtargeting purposes in the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

According to the agency, it had found “various conduct issues” within SCL Elections and other companies within the group. These led to SCL Elections being fined and its director, Alexander Nix, being disqualified from the role.

As part of the investigation, however, the ICO noted that it analyzed over 700 terabytes of data from Cambridge Analytica. This data gave them a clearer picture of just how much data the companies were gathering, which turned out to be less than initially thought.

Before this, Cambridge Analytica made a well-publicized claim that it had more than “5,000 data points per individual on 230 million adult Americans.” Based on the ICO investigation, these numbers are an exaggeration.

Vindication for ex-Cambridge Analytica staff

Cambridge Analytica and the SCL group had ceased to operate in 2018 after whistleblower Christopher Wylie came forward with information about their supposed data-mining operations. This was followed by Facebook saying that Cambridge Analytica had gained unauthorized access to the data of 87 million users, mostly in America.

The revelation led to a year-long investigation into the data breach. In 2019, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined Facebook a record $5 billion for failing to safeguard user data.

The specter of that investigation has continued to haunt former Cambridge Analytica staff beyond the company’s closure, with many accusing the company of manipulating the 2016 elections at the behest of the Russians or the Republican party, or even both. The ICO’s findings, however, now looks to help exorcise that. (Related: Russia hoax COLLAPSES: Not a single American charged with collusion with Russia; left-wing media has been LYING all along)

Former Cambridge Analytica chief data officer Alex Tayler said that the findings would allow the company staff to finally move on from the accusations.

“All the former staff of the company have had their reputations unfairly tarnished and these findings will be some comfort to them as they move on with their lives,” he said.

Follow for more on the supposed Russian involvement in the 2016 elections that the Democrats blame for their losses.

Sources include:[PDF]

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