British election authorities have reportedly acquired a warrant to search the London offices of Cambridge Analytica.
A general view of the building at 55 New Oxford Street that contains offices of Cambridge Analytica in London, Friday, 23 March 2018. Photo: AP
The UK’s Information Commission said on Saturday that it had launched an investigation into Cambridge Analytica following confirmation by Facebook last week that the political consultancy had acquired data on 50 million users without their consent.
In a breaking news alert this morning, the BCC confirmed that the commission had been granted a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s offices located at 55 New Oxford Street in London.
Cambridge Analytica – not to be confused with the University of Cambridge – is owned by SCL Group, a London-based behavioural research firm. It is principally funded by US hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer, who in 2016 poured more than $US15.5 million ($20.1 million) into Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
Cambridge Analytica worked for Trump during the campaign after working on behalf of Sen Ted Cruz, to whom the Mercers also donated approximately $US11 million ($14.3 million).
The election services branch of SCL, Cambridge Analytica created psychological profiles of voters for clients at SCL Group, which otherwise conducts “influence operations” on behalf of politicians and governments worldwide, which includes the use of political propaganda.
In videos covertly recorded by reporters at Britain’s Channel 4 News, now-suspended Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix boasted about bribing and blackmailing his clients’ political opponents, at one point suggesting he could “send some girls around” (read: Sex workers) to a rival candidate to generate damaging material against them.
According to the BCC, the Information Commission plans to “execute the warrant shortly”. The commission has also requested testimony from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who went on an apology tour in the media for his company’s role in the scandal.