SCL Elections prosecuted for failing to comply with ICO enforcement notice

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

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.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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