The ICO 1-0 Cambridge Analytica

In an important first step the ICO has successfully prosecuted Cambridge Analytica for failing to respond to an enforcement notice issued in 2018.

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In the first of what is likely to be a significant number of proceedings, the ICO has announced that it has prosecuted SCL Elections Ltd (SCL), formerly known as Cambridge Analytica, for failing to respond to an enforcement notice issued in May 2018. SCL pled guilty to breaching s47(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 and was ordered to pay a fine of £15,000 to the ICO, £6,000 in costs and a victim surcharge of £170.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, stated "This prosecution, the first against Cambridge Analytica, is a warning that there are consequences for ignoring the law.”

Clearly, this result is welcome news for the ICO, and companies will now have to take notice when then ICO seeks to take action against them. We note, however, that a fine of £15,000 is unlikely to make companies significantly overhaul their procedures in order to swiftly respond to data requests and believe that greater education and enforcement action should be taken by the ICO to highlight this issue.

Separately, the ICO have noted that their investigation into SCL continues, and that the ICO has referred the company and its directors to the Insolvency Service. This is interesting because:

  1. It is clear the ICO has now found its feet in terms of inter-agency communication

  2. There are potential concerns regarding the director’s behaviours as to their capacity in an official position, and

  3. Unless there are potential concerns regarding an ongoing confidential investigation, or money laundering charges, the ICO has not made a reference publicly to a criminal complaint against SCL Limited at this point.

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.