The controversial Cambridge Analytica was not involved in the Brexit referendum. However, that is separate from the illegal data collection that the company did.
That says ICO, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the British watchdog for data and information law. After three years of research, it concludes that while there have been early talks with pro-Brexit groups such as the UKIP party, Cambridge Analytica has not been involved.
Cambridge Analytica gained notoriety several years ago for collecting personal data from millions of Facebook profiles without users’ consent. This data could be used to target users with advertisements, which helped, among other things, to get US President Donald Trump elected.
In the aftermath of Trump’s election, it was initially widely believed that the company also played a role in the Brexit referendum campaigns a few months earlier.
The ICO investigation does state that there was evidence that Cambridge Analytica had plans to move its data abroad to avoid regulatory issues. But that did not happen because the company was discontinued in 2018.
However, the investigation has resulted in quite a few fines in recent years. For example, Facebook received a maximum penalty of half a million British pounds for insufficiently protecting users’ data, allowing CA to collect them.
Two British pro-Brexit campaigns were also fined. Vote Leave, backed by current Prime Minister Johnson, had to pay £ 40,000 for sending unsolicited text messages. Leave EU had to pay £ 15,000 for illegal marketing practices.