Disgraced political consultancy Cambridge Analytica did not misuse data to try and influence the outcome of the 2016 Brexit referendum, a major probe has concluded.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has spent three years investigating the use of personal data in political campaigning by the now defunct SCL Elections — the parent company of Cambridge Analytica.
The controversial company became envolve in a scandal in 2018 after it emerged it had harvested data belonging to millions of Facebook users without their consent.
Including the Brexit referendum and the 2016 US presidential election, Cambridge Analytica has been accused of using this data to target voters in political campaigns.
The data watchdog had found no evidence of illegal activity and was concluding its investigation, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.
She wrote in a letter to digital select committee chair Julian Knight, from my review of the materials recovered by the investigation. I have found no other evidence to change my earlier view that SCL/CA were not involved in the EU referendum campaign in the UK.
Earlier this year the ICO handed over information about possible Russian activity linked to Cambridge Analytica’s data to the National Crime Agency. However, it said investigating this link fell outside of its revoke.
While Cambridge Analytica had not acted illegally, the probe had found evidence of poor data practices at the company, Denham added.
She said this would likely have attracted more regulatory action had the firm continued trading.
Cambridge Analytica boss Alexander Nix was handed a seven-year ban from running companies as a result of his involvement in the scandal.
The Insolvency Service accused Nix of offering shady services including bribery or honey trap stings, voter disengagement campaigns, obtaining information to discredit political opponents and spreading information anonymously in political campaigns.
The ICO also handed down a £500,000 fine to Facebook and smaller penalties to both Vote Leave and Leave.EU as part of its investigation which have now been paid.