Cambridge Analytica and British parent shut down after Facebook scandal

A person works on a laptop at Cambridge Analytica’s empty offices in Washington. The company will begin bankruptcy proceedings, it said, after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees resulting from the Facebook user data scandal. (Reuters)
Updated 03 May 2018

Cambridge Analytica and British parent shut down after Facebook scandal

LONDON/WASHINGTON: Cambridge Analytica, the firm embroiled in a controversy over its handling of Facebook user data, and its British parent SCL Elections, are shutting down immediately after suffering a sharp drop in business, the company said on Wednesday.
The company will begin bankruptcy proceedings, it said, after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees resulting from the scandal over reports the company harvested personal data about millions of Facebook users beginning in 2014.
“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” the statement said.
“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.”
Allegations of the improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 US election campaign, has hurt the shares of the world’s biggest social network and prompted multiple official investigations in the United States and Europe.
“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company’s statement said.
The firm is shutting down effective Wednesday and employees have been told to turn in their computers, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier.
The Cambridge Analytica sign had been removed from the reception area of its London offices on Wednesday. At SCL’s Washington, D.C. office, a man declined to answer questions from a Reuters reporter.
After the announcement, Britain’s data regulator said it would continue civil and criminal investigations of the firm and will pursue “individuals and directors as appropriate” despite the shutdown.
“We will also monitor closely any successor companies using our powers to audit and inspect, to ensure the public is safeguarded,” a spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said in a statement.
Cambridge Analytica was created around 2013 initially with a focus on US elections, with $15 million in backing from billionaire Republican donor Robert Mercer and a name chosen by future Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, the New York Times reported.


US Senator Cruz: Twitter’s failure to delete Iranian officials’ accounts could violate sanctions

Updated 29 May 2020

US Senator Cruz: Twitter’s failure to delete Iranian officials’ accounts could violate sanctions

  • Cruz urged Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to open an investigation into Twitter “for possible criminal violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA)”

LONDON: US Senator Ted Cruz called for a criminal investigation of Twitter on Friday over allegations the company is violating US sanctions against Iran by not banning officials from the site.

Cruz urged Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to open an investigation into Twitter “for possible criminal violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA),” he wrote in a letter sent to the the US Justice and Treasury departments.

In the letter, Cruz explained that he had informed Twitter of their violation of the IEEPA through two specific and active Twitter accounts belonging to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

“To this day, Twitter continues to provide services to these covered individuals, and, in an April 3, 2020 response letter, attempted to justify this decision with two untenable arguments,” he wrote.

“In early April, Khamenei and Zarif used their Twitter accounts to post anti-American disinformation and conspiracy theories, not authoritative health information. They use their accounts provided by Twitter to threaten and taunt their enemies real and imagined. In any event, Twitter’s corporate values and grave misapprehension of the threat that Khamenei and Zarif pose are irrelevant,” he added.

“The Department of Treasury and the Department of Justice should investigate what appears to be Twitter’s blatant and wilful violation of IEEPA and E.O. 13876 by providing services to Khamenei, Zarif, and other designated Iranian entities, and, to the extent appropriate, enforce any violation through sanctions and by seeking civil and criminal penalties.”