SCL Elections, also known as Cambridge Analytica, has been fined £15,000 for failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The company appeared at Hendon Magistrates’ Court and pleaded guilty through its administrators to breaching Section 47 (1) of the Data Protection Act 1998.
The criminal prosecution related to the company’s failure to respond to an enforcement notice issued in May 2018, which ordered the company to respond in full to a subject access request submitted by Professor David Carroll, a US-based academic.
In addition to the fine, the presiding Judge at Hendon Magistrates’ Courtalso ordered the company to pay £6,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £170.
Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, said: “This prosecution, the first against Cambridge Analytica, is a warning that there are consequences for ignoring the law. Wherever you live in the world, if your data is being processed by a UK company then UK data protection laws apply. Organisations that handle personal data must respect people’s legal privacy rights. Where that doesn’t happen and companies ignore ICO enforcement notices, we will take action.”
The enforcement action is part of the ICO’s investigation into data analytics for political purposes.
The ICO’s investigation into Cambridge Analytica continues. The ICO is currently working to analyse materials seized during the investigation.
In pleading guilty, SCL Elections has accepted that it should have responded fully to Professor Carroll’s subject access request and the ICO’s notice in the first place. Cambridge Analytica provided Professor Carroll with a spreadsheet of information it held about him when he made his original request on 10 January 2017, but it didn’t provide the decision making process used to create it.
Where companies fail to meet their obligations, the ICO can issue an enforcement notice compelling them to do so. It’s a criminal offence not to comply with such a notice.
The ICO has now referred SCL Elections and its directors to the Insolvency Service.